Saint Stanislaus Kostka – who died in 1568 just a few months shy of his eighteenth birthday – is one of the most popular saints in Poland. His short life demonstrates two primary lessons: That much can be done in little time, and that whatever time we are given here on earth, it’s all given us to get to heaven.
Stanislaus realized this from his earliest years, whether by natural intuition, or by the grace of God, or, most likely, both. He was from noble lineage, his family wealthy, and the last thing they wanted was for their boy to join the newly-founded radical Jesuits, which to their mind was throwing it all away.
But that’s just what he did. One morning, the young lad dressed himself as a mendicant to escape detection, and set out on the 400-mile trek to Augsburg, where fellow saint Peter Canisius was the provincial, to seek permission to enter the Jesuit novitiate.
When they realized Stanislaus had gone missing, his older brother Paul and his tutor took off in haste to catch up, but they were not able to do so, by a series of mysterious, and perhaps miraculous, setbacks. Stanislaus arrived at his destination – also quasi-miraculous – was accepted after a brief postulancy, and eventually made his way to Rome to begin his novitiate.
He was, by all accounts, a model religious, not only keeping the rule, but going above and beyond, always cheerful and jovial, yet serious about serious things. He was sickly, experiencing severe chest pains, but would not spare himself. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin was exemplary, and she granted him many favours, including the final one, which was to receive Stanislaus into heaven on the morning of her primary solemnity, the Assumption, after the young novice had fallen into his final fever on the eve of the feast of Saint Lawrence. Stanislaus had predicted this, in full hope and assurance – and when he died, by popular acclaim he was declared a saint – subito santo! He was beatified by Pope Paul V on October 8th, 1605, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on December 31st, 1726.
Devotion to Saint Stanislaus continues throughout the world, and especially in his native Poland, which could certainly use his intercession, especially for the young, so many of whom are abandoning the Faith which has held their nation together through her bitter trials.
We were not made for this world, but for heaven, summed up in Stanislaus’ own motto, ad maiora natus sum – I was born for greater things. Just so, and a message our world immersed in a blind and deadly secularism desperately needs to hear.
Saint Stanislaus Kostka, Módl się za nami!