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St. Stanislaus (św. Stanisław)

Today May 8 we celebrate St. Stanislaus (pol. Sw. Stanislaw), Bishop and martyr - Poland's second patron saint next to St. Adalbert.

A bishop of Krakow, Stanislaw was born in Szczepanow, Poland on July 26, 1030. Very well educated in Paris and Gniezno, Stanislaw was approved in 1072 as Bishop by King Boleslaw the Generous aka the Bold (pol. Boleslaw Smialy). One of the best rulers from the Piast Dynasty - King Boleslaw admired his Bishop's missionary zeal. Stanislaw supported Poland's first Benedictine Abbeys for evangelization of his beloved countrymen and restored Poland's first metropolitan See in Gniezno. This move stopped Magdeburg's See (Prussia) from taking over Polish jurisdiction. Bishop Stanislaw understood that under domestic unrest of his time, moral teaching made all the difference. Even if it addressed a monarch. And it wasn't just king Boleslaw's licentious life style. According to Wincenty Kadlubek, Polish chronicler, the king's cruelty was out of control. Stanislaw stood in defense of the kings' knights' wives who had been unfaithful during a royal army expedition to Kiev and were sentenced to unhuman punishment by the king. This was enough, the bishop had to be silenced. Using political motives like treason to warrant capital punishment upon Stanislaw, the king ordered his stabbing and dismemberment. When subordinates refused to follow his command, the king killed the bishop himself during mass on April 11, 1079 at Skalka church. The faithful gathered their bishop's remains and buried him. And a miracle happened. His body was discovered back in one piece. People sought his intercession to God. Bishop Stanislaw was the first Pole to be canonized in 1253 and is Poland's patron of moral order. Each May 8, a procession led by Krakow bishops proceeds from Wawel Castle Arch-Cathedral, where St. Stanislaw is buried under a magnificent silver confession-to St Michael Archangel Basilica on the Skalka Hill. Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski has pointed to the saint as a model for those brave souls today who are not afraid to be a sign of contradiction and speak up for moral justice and peace in our challenging times. Here in Chicago, one of our oldest churches St. Stanislaus Bishop & Martyr was built by Polish immigrants in 1893. St. Stanislaus - Pray for us!

Beatrix Czerkawski

Photo shows our PMA Libary gem - Wawel Cathedral album and drawing of St. Stanislaus tomb (pol. Konfesja); PMA set of prints "Folk costumes from Krakow vicinity" by Zofia Stryjenska, our Krakow costume doll couple and Polish-American Lira ensemble posing with Wawel Arch-cathedral in background.

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