Saint Casimir of Poland

Długosz and Saint Casimir by Florian Cynk (circa 1869) (

Saint Casimir died young – as the good are wont to 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, devoting his life more to God and His poor, preferring a life of celibacy and chastity. Like Saint Katharine Drexel yesterday, he could have had it all, in an age when kings and princes were truly so, but cooperation with grace, and his own disposition, allowed him to see 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:

He always preferred to be counted among the meek and poor of spirit, among those who are promised the kingdom of heaven, rather than among the famous and powerful men of this world. He had no ambition for the power that lies in human rank and he would never accept it from his father. He was afraid that the barbs of wealth, which our Lord Jesus Christ spoke of as thorns, would wound his soul, or that he would be contaminated by contact with worldly goods.
Many who acted as his personal servants or secretaries are still alive today; these men, of the highest integrity, who had personal knowledge of his private life, testify that he preserved his chastity to the very end of his life.

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 may well have been canonized soon after his death, in 1521, by Leo XIII, but such records were 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, and he is now the patron of Poland and Lithuania.

Saint Casimir, ora pro nobis!