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Monday, May 07, 2007

On St Stanislaw, Bishop and Martyr

  • This Stanislaw was a Pole. He was born of a noble family, (on the 26th day of July, in the year of Our Lord 1030,) at (Szczepanow, in the diocese of) Cracow. His godly parents, who had been childless for thirty years, obtained him from God by prayer, and from his earliest years he gave token of the holiness of life, which afterwards marked him. When he was a young man he applied himself heartily to all useful learning, and was deeply read in the sacred teaching of Canons and of Theological science. After the death of his parents he inherited great possessions, but he sold them, and distributed the price to the poor, purposing himself to become a monk. However, by the Providence of God, Lampert, Bishop of Cracow, named him Canon of the Cathedral Church of that diocese, and Preacher in the same: and afterwards, (in 1072,) he was elected, against his own will, to succeed to Lampert’s place. In this office he was a bright and shining light of all virtues that become a shepherd of souls, especially of tenderness toward the poor.
  • At that time Boleslaw II was King of Poland, and him Stanislaw grievously offended, because he openly rebuked him for his shameless lust. Wherefore, in a solemn Parliament of his kingdom, he made Stanislaw to be brought before him on a false accusation of having taken wrongfully a certain village, which he had bought in the name of his Church. The Bishop could not rebut this charge by documents, and the witnesses were in too great fear to speak the truth. Stanislaw therefore said that in three days he would produce before the judgment-seat one Peter, from whom he had bought the village, and who had been dead three years. His enemies laughed thereat, and closed with his proposal, and the man of God gave himself up to fasting and prayer for three days. On the day, which he had promised, after he had offered up the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, he commanded Peter to rise from the grave. Peter then immediately came to life, arose, and followed Stanislaw to the King’s judgment-seat, where before the King and all others, who were struck dumb with amazement, he bore witness of the sale of the village, and the honest payment of the price by the Bishop, and then again fell asleep in the Lord.
  • Stanislaw often rebuked Boleslaw, but when he found it was in vain, he at last cut him off from the communion of Christ’s faithful people. Thereupon Boleslaw became frenzied with rage, and (on the 8th of May, in the year 1079,) sent soldiers to the Church to murder the holy Bishop. This they thrice essayed to do, but God was pleased that they should be held back by some unseen power. In the end, the ungodly King with his own hand cut off the head of the Priest of God as he was standing at the Altar offering up the Sacrifice without spot. His body was hewn into pieces and strewn about the fields, but the eagles strangely kept the beasts of prey off it. The Canons of the Cathedral of Cracow soon gathered together the mutilated and scattered limbs, which they were enabled to see by a lightness, which overspread the sky at night; and they fitted them together, each into his place. The reliques immediately so joined themselves one to the other, that no marks of wounds remained. Moreover, God was pleased to manifest the holiness of His servant by many wonders after his death, by the which being moved, Pope Innocent IV added his name to those of the Saints, and the Supreme Pontiff Clement VIII gave his Feast a place in the Service Book of the Church of Rome…

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