Feast of King St Stephen, the founder of the Hungarian state - 2023
On the morning of the Feast of King Saint Stephen, the founder of the state, 166 officers took the oath of allegiance in Budapest, in the presence of President of Hungary Katalin Novák, after the ceremonial raising of the flag of Hungary. The officers swore an oath to defend the independence of their country and the rights and freedom of Hungarians even if it costs them their life. The Head of State wished the soldiers strength and good health so that they can remain loyal to their oath.
Following the commissioning ceremony, Katalin Novák travelled to Esztergom, the ancient Primate's town, where she celebrated the Day of King Stephen with Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom and Mayor Ádám Hernádi.
In her celebratory speech delivered in Erzsébet Park under the Royal Castle, the President underlined: by founding Christian Hungary, by joining our country to the Western world by a deliberate decision, St Stephen did not only chart the course we must follow, but also gained an unquestionable place in our lives.
According to Katalin Novák, King St Stephen is therefore with us in our daily life as well as on our special days, in our schools, public spaces, churches, hospitals, poems, novels, films and rock operas, inside and outside our borders.
" To him we bow our heads on our national holiday, him we thank for his courage, faith, wisdom and humbleness. St Stephen is the common denominator of the Hungarians.
He is within us while standing above us, he is behind us while walking before us. " – the President of Hungary said, according to whom 20 August is not a dusty tradition, nor is it a modern party.
Katalin Novák highlighted: 20 August is a national celebration in the fullest sense of the word. A celebration reminding us of our past and filling our future with hope over and over again. This is when the unimportant fades into the background and the important comes to the fore. – the Head of State added.
On the occasion of the celebratory day, the President of Hungary presented the Hungarian Order of St Stephen to the world-famous Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó and Olympic champion sabre fencer Áron Szilágyi in the Knights’ Hall of the Royal Palace of Esztergom, while Csaba Böjte received the Hungarian Order of Honour from the President.
In her speech, Katalin Novák stressed that the nation needs role models. „Role models with whom we speak the same language, with whom we share a common history, role models who are like us and whom we can look up to but in whom we also recognise ourselves” – the President said.
In the early evening, Katalin Novák participated in the procession of the Holy Right and attended Holy Mass in the Basilica. The Head of State concluded the national celebrations by watching the fireworks display.