He was a son of the Hungarian chief Géza and was baptized, together with his father, by Archbishop St. Adalbert of Prague in 985, on which occasion he changed his heathen name Vaik (Vojk) into Stephen. In 995 he married Gisela, a sister of Duke Henry of Bavaria, the future Emperor St. Henry II, and in 997 succeeded to the throne of Hungary. In order to make Hungary a Christian nation and to establish himself more firmly as ruler, he sent Abbot Astricus to Rome to petition Pope Sylvester II for the royal dignity and the power to establish episcopal sees. The pope acceded to his wishes and, in addition, presented him with a royal crown with which he was crowned at Gran on 17 August, 1001. He founded a monastery in Jerusalem and hospices for pilgrims at Rome, Ravenna, and Constantinople. He was a personal friend of St. Bruno of Querfurt and corresponded with Abbot St. Odilo of Cluny.