(With the conflict unfolding in Ukraine, and potentially across Europe, today’s saint, one of the patrons of Poland, and of Lithuania, whose very name means ‘bearer of peace’, makes a very a propos intercessor. May peace prevail.)
Saint Casimir died young – as the good often do – entering eternity, after a battle with tuberculosis, on this day, March 4th, 1484, at the tender age of 25. He was a Polish prince and heir apparent, but gave up the gloria mundi, to devote his life to God and His poor, and, unlike most princes – indeed, there are few other examples – consecrated himself to celibacy and chastity. Like Saint Katharine Drexel yesterday, he could have had all the world of his era had to offer, but cooperation with grace, and his own disposition, allowed him to see sub specie aeternitatis – through the transitory veil of this passing world, to the one that is to come; and this made him all the more human. As contemporary sources describe him, from today’s Office:
A prince preserving his chastity is in itself a quasi-miracle, never mind his disdain for self, and total love for others, especially the poor and outcast. Casimir’s reputation for holiness quickly spread, and he although he seems to have been canonized soon after his death in 1521 by Leo XIII, any record of such was lost in the horrific sack of Rome by barbaric quasi-Christian mercenaries in 1527. We know for certain that Pope Clement VIII enrolled him in the calendar of saints in 1602. When his body was later exhumed, it was found to be incorrupt, still holding a copy of his favorite Marian hymn, Omni Die Dic Mariae – Daily, Daily, Sing to Mary. Saint Casimir is the patron of Poland and Lithuania, of young people, as well as a model for all of our leaders, great and small, to seek God and not self, His kingdom, and not our own.
Saint Casimir, ora pro nobis!