07 May Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr
Today is the feast day of Saint Stanislaus. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Stanislaus was born in answer to prayer, when his parents were advanced in age. Out of gratitude they educated him for the Church. When his parents died, he sold their vast properties and gave the price to the poor. He was ordained, and being a holy priest, soon afterwards became a Canon of the Cracow cathedral. (4)
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877
Cracow, in Poland, was the native place of St. Stanislaus. His parents, who were as virtuous as they were rich, had been married thirty years without having offspring, until at last God heard their prayers and bestowed a son upon them, who in the first years of childhood gave promises of his future holiness. Innocence spoke in every feature, he loved prayer above all earthly pleasure, and seemed to have inherited from his mother the deepest compassion for the poor. He began his studies at home, but finished them at Paris with great renown. When he returned home, his parents were dead and as he had determined to go into a monastery to serve God, he divided his fortune among the poor. Lambert however, bishop of Cracow, on becoming acquainted with his talents and knowledge, saw how great would be his influence among the clergy, and persuaded him to receive, a canonicate. After being invested with this dignity, Stanislaus led so blameless and holy a life that, on the death of Lambert, he was unanimously chosen his successor. The humble man was very unwilling to accept the honor, but he was equally zealous in fulfilling his duties when, being obliged to comply, he had been duly consecrated. He personally visited every parish in his bishopric and was unwearied in assisting his flock in all their temporal as well as spiritual wants. It was said by every one that the bishop's revenues belonged to the poor. To visit the sick and give aid and comfort to them was his daily occupation, and the leisure moments, which were left him by the duties” of his sacred office, he gave not to idle amusement but to devout exercises. He was extremely rigorous towards his own person and seldom divested himself of his penitential robe. He kept an almost continued fast and in short lived in such a manner that he was called throughout the land the holy Bishop.
At that period, the king of Poland was Boleslaus II, who was hated and despised by every one on account of his cruelty and great immorality. As no one else dared to censure his vicious conduct, Stanislaus fearlessly exposed to him the scandal which he gave to others, and exhorted him, with tears in his eyes and upon bended knees, to reform. The King promised to follow the bishop's admonition, but instead of so doing, his conduct became worse than ever. Among other vicious deeds, he abducted the wife of a nobleman and kept her to the great indignation of the whole nobility. Stanislaus went to the King a second time, and like John the Baptist, conjured him most solemnly to change his scandalous life, remonstrating with him on the enormity of his crime in living with another man's wife. Boleslaus, enraged at this, turned away from him, resolved to put the severe lecturer out of the way. This he determined to do by means of a false accusation. The Saint had bought, of a nobleman by the name of Peter, an estate for his church, for which he had paid in money. The purchase had taken place with the consent of the King, and the estate had been in the possession of the Church three years, when Boleslaus caused the heirs of Peter (who had meanwhile died), to be informed, that if they wished to obtain the estate for themselves, they should bring an action against the bishop, and that he would assist them. The heirs followed the advice, alleging that Stanislaus had purchased the estate from their father, but had not yet paid for it. The bishop declared the accusation false, and summoned witnesses. The latter appeared but gave no evidence, as they had been forbidden so to do. Trusting in God, the Saint said to the king and the assembled counsellors; “Well, as these witnesses do not dare to speak, I shall, in three days, place, before you one whom you will be forced to believe, namely the former proprietor of the estate, himself.” The King laughed derisively, as the latter had been dead more than two years: he, however, received the bishop's word.
The Saint fasted and prayed during three days and nights. On the fourth day, clad in his priestly robes, after Mass he went to the grave of Peter, and having caused the earth to be removed, he prayed, and then called on the dead and commanded him, in the name of the Holy Trinity to arise and go with him to testify to the truth. And behold a miracle! The dead arose in the presence of all the assembled people and followed the bishop to the King and the councillors. Mute with amazement, they gazed at the unexpected witness; but Stanislaus said: ” Here is he whom I promised to summon; he will reveal the truth.” Upon this Peter distinctly said; “Yes I have of my own free will sold my estate to the bishop and received the price of it in money. My heirs wrong him.” Having given this evidence, Peter was led back to his grave. Stanislaus, against the wish of the King, was discharged and lived for some time unmolested.
When, however, the conduct of the King became more and more scandalous, the nobles of the country requested the bishop once more to remonstrate with him. The fearless Saint gave several days to fasting and prayer, and also offered to God other penances that his exhortation might be more successful than the former. After this, he went to the King and represented to him the danger of eternal damnation, which became more imminent, with the increased years that God gave him to repent and do penance. When he, however, saw that neither remonstrances nor entreaties were of any avail, he threatened him with excommunication. This threat the Saint at last put into execution as the King instead of reforming, became daily worse. At length the King, unwilling to be longer censured by the Saint, sent some men of his guard to the Chapel of St. Michael, to which he had been informed that the Saint had gone to say holy Mass, with orders to put him immediately to death. The soldiers went to the Chapel to obey the royal command, but seized with sudden fear, they fled and frankly confessed to the King, that it was impossible for them to lay hands on so venerable a man. He then twice more sent other soldiers with the same order, but all returned saying that a heavenly light, which surrounded the Saint, prevented them from touching him.
Wild with rage, the King rushed into the chapel and running towards the bishop who stood officiating before the holy Altar, he clove his head with one stroke of his sword, and the Saint sank dead upon the ground. Having had the body dragged out of the Chapel, the King caused it to be cut in pieces, and gave orders that it should be left a prey to the birds. But Divine Providence decreed otherwise. Four large eagles guarded the mangled members of the holy body until some persons, taking courage, laid them together with the intention of burying them. A new miracle, however, took place. By the power of the Most High, the members were joined in such a manner that the entire body of the Saint was lying before the eyes of those who had come to take it away. All present thanked God and praised the Saint's fearlessness and constancy. They laid the body in a grave before the door of the Chapel where he had received the Crown of Martyrdom. Ten years later, the sacred remains were transferred to the Cathedral of Cracow. During the ten years that the body lay before the Chapel-door, bright, heavenly, lights were seen upon it, with which God glorified his faithful servant upon earth. (2)
In 1088 Saint Stanislaus' body was transferred to the cathedral by Bishop Lambert II. St. Stanislaus was canonized 1253 by Innocent IV at Assisi.
Image: Saint Stanislaus, Stanisław Samostrzelnik, circa: 1530-1535
Research by ED Masters, REGINA Staff
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