April 11, 2016

April 11: Optional Memorial of St. Stanislaus, Martyr

St. Stanislaus
Stanislaus was born into a noble family on July 26. 1030 at Szczepanow near Cracow, Poland. Stanislaus was born in answer to prayer, when his parents were advanced in age. Out of gratitude they educated him for the Church. He was taught at Gnesen and was ordained there. Stanislaus was given a canonry by Bishop Lampert Zula of Cracow, who made him his preacher, and soon Stanislaus became noted for his preaching. He became a much sought after spiritual adviser. Stanislaus was successful in his reforming efforts, and in 1072 was named Bishop of Cracow.

As Bishop of Cracow, Stanislaus was a champion of the liberty of the Church and of the dignity of man. He defended the lonely and the poor. When Stanislaus reproached King Boleslaus II for his immoral life, the king himself killed Stanislaus while the later said Mass on April 11, 1079. The cult of Saint Stanisław the martyr began immediately upon his death. St. Stanislaus was canonized in 1253 by Pope Innocent IV. He is the patron saint of Poland. [Video below.]

Sources: Catholic Culture.org, Catholic.org and Magnificat [Magazine].

The Life of St. Stanislaus of Cracow

Stanislaus was born in 1030 and was educated at Gnesen and at Paris. After his ordination to the priesthood he was made a canon of the cathedral at Cracow as well as archdeacon and preacher. Upon the death of the bishop of Cracow, he was nominated bishop of the diocese by Pope Alexander II.

The king at the time, Boleslaus II, trying to strengthen his own power, led an expedition against the grand duchy of Kiev, making himself very unpopular with the nobles of the country, who opposed his policies. St. Stanislaus of Cracow sided with the nobles, led by the king's brother, Ladislaus, and this brought him into conflict with the king.

Stanislaus had opposed the king before for his tyrannical ways and once confronted him boldly for his immoral behavior when Boleslaus had abducted the wife of a Polish nobleman and carried her off to his castle. No one seemed willing to face the king from a fear of his rage, but Stanislaus boldly went to the king and threatened excommunication if he did not change his ways. Furious, the king promised revenge on the bishop. Later, Stanislaus sided with the nobles in their opposition to the king's political policies, and the king accused him of being a traitor and condemned him to death.

At first the king commanded his soldiers to kill the bishop when he was celebrating Mass at St. Michael's chapel in Cracow, but the soldiers refused, fearing to bring down upon themselves the wrath of God. Undeterred, the king himself entered the church, drew his sword, and killed the bishop, ordering his soldiers to dismember the body.

Pope Gregory VII placed the country under interdict and Boleslaus fell from power, fleeing to Hungary, where he entered the monastery of Osiak to do penance for his crime. Stanislaus, canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253, is one of the patron saints of Poland.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints, by Rev. Clifford Stevens.

Patron: Archdiocese of Cracow, Poland; Poland.

Symbols: Bishop being hacked to pieces at the foot of an altar.

Collect Prayer

O God, for whose honor the Bishop Saint Stanislaus fell beneath the swords of his persecutors, grant we pray, that we may persevere strong in faith even until death. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Prayer to St. Stanislaus 

Dear Father in Heaven,
to honor you, Saint Stanislaus
labored tirelessly for the Church,
the poor and downtrodden and,
faced martyrdom with courage.
Keep us strong and loyal
in our faith until death.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Stanislaus Bishop and Martyr -- April 11

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