Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom – Life and Prayer

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Bl Eusebius at prayer

The following is reproduced, with some minor changes, from a booklet on Blessed Eusebius promoting the cause of his Canonization. A cause that can not go forward due to a lack of physical documentation. Wars and violence in the following centuries destroyed much of the physical evidence from his life. This text is very devotional in its tone.

The Holiness of Blessed Eusebius

Eusebius was born in the Hungarian town of Esztergom in the early thirteenth century. He stood out from others even when very young. Those who knew him marvelled at his knowledge and piety. He often stayed awake all night, keeping vigil. He devoted all his time to prayer, the psalms, meditation and learning. Sometimes he spoke to people about ways to gain special wisdom that would bring them closer to God. Eusebius was made a canon in Esztergom.

Inspired by the life of hermits

Eusebius was not only famous for his virtues but also for his generous hospitality. He was often visited by the hermits who lived in abodes scattered throughout the mountainous region around Esztergom. On these occasions, the hermits exchanged woven baskets for food. Eusebius admired these hermits so much that he decided to become a hermit himself. The invasion of the Tartar hordes into Hungary interrupted his plan. After the Tartars had left, he remained at his post and may have helped rebuild his country. In all, it took him three years to ask permission from his superior, Archbishop Istvan Vancsa, to leave and begin a new life as a hermit. He thus did not flee from difficulties but made a peacetime, conscious decision for a life of self-sacrifice and penance.

At this time, many others also became hermits, determined to serve Christ in solitude. Their parents and friends tried to persuade them to return. Eusebius replied to them: Although Christ loved his Mother and his cousin John the Apostle and knew his crucifixion was causing them both untold sorrow, Christ did not save himself from the cross. Christ died the way he chose to. Following Christ’s example, Eusebius and his fellow hermits cannot decide to descend from the cross of penitence despite the lamentations of beloved ones. We are staying! Hearing these words from the depths of Eusebius’s soul, the parents and friends could make no reply.

Blessed Eusebius founds a Monastic Order

Blessed Eusebius pictured with the flames from his vision in the background
Blessed Eusebius pictured with the flames from his vision in the background

Eusebius moved into a triple cave near Santo. He placed a large wooden cross in front of the cave. It was there where he prayed and meditated. One night while praying, he had a vision. The entire Pilis mountain range was full of tiny flames. These flames started to move towards him, and finally, in front of the cross by his cave, the flames converged into one enormous blazing torch. Eusebius heard a voice coming from the cross: Eusebius summoned all the hermits and found a monastic community. The love present in each will be the bond that will unite you and enable each to give loving service.

The vision was followed by deed. At the beginning of the second half of the thirteenth century, Eusebius established the first Hungarian monastic order. At the National Synod at Esztergom in 1256, he signed his name as the first provincial of the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit. In 1262 Eusebius and some fellow monks journeyed to the Court of Pope Urban IV. There the pontiff was asked to endorse the Order. Eusebius had the support of St. Thomas of Aquino and also of the first Hungarian Cardinal, Istvan Vancsa, the very same person who permitted Eusebius to become a hermit.

Eusebius was the abbot of his cloister for 20 years. When he was near death, he gathered his brother hermits around him and blessed them. On the 19th of January 1270, in the monastery of Szentkereszt (Holy Cross), Eusebius died. There were sixteen Pauline cloisters during Eusebius’s lifetime; after his death, this number rose to nearly 150.

Prayer to Blessed Eusebius

Lord God, who bestows glory on His saints, I turn to You and ask that by the intercession of Blessed Eusebius of Esztergom, whose love for You led him to become a hermit and live a life of penitence, that help be given to his people in need. May the prayers of Blessed Eusebius unite the Hungarian people, dispersed throughout the world, just as in Eusebius’s lifetime, when his prayers brought together the hermits into one community and home.

May Eusebius guide the Churches to unity according to the wishes of Your beloved Son. May the hermit Eusebius’s flame of love burn in the human race’s empty lives and guide parents and children back to the warmth of true family life. May the search for the truth by the ever-seeking youth find the illumined path along which lies happiness and the true purpose of human life and by which all may come to know You, dear Lord. May the old and sick see the light so that through their deep love, they may bear their sorrows and pain and thus, by example, help their fellow man overcome all suffering.

May the prayers of Blessed Eusebius relieve the shortage of priests in his country, Hungary, and may all who have responded to the call of the priesthood be faithful till death to the Church, in obedience, chastity and unity.

After a terrible war, Blessed Eusebius retreated into the mountains and became a hermit. He did this to help obtain peace through devotion and sacrifice. May the virtues of Eusebius help bring peace to the world, especially to his country Hungary and everywhere where there is violence and anxiety. Finally, I present to You my personal request:

(Meditate a moment on what graces you are seeking)

I ask that through the intercession of Blessed Eusebius for the benefit of every soul and the Church, I ask that this request be granted. Through the power of Christ, Our Lord, Amen.