We celebrate Saint Stanislaus today (+ April 11, 1079), bishop and martyr, who accepted the episcopacy only at the direct order of Pope Alexander II. He proved a wise and courageous leader of his flock, put to death by his own king, Boleslaus, for rebuking the monarch’s ‘immoral life’. The details are rather obscure and disputed, but the Bishop excommunicated the King, which weakened him politically, and so the King accused Stanislaus of treason, sending soldiers to kill him. When the would-be assassins balked, their conscience blanching at the thought of murdering an unarmed, saintly cleric, the King himself took his sword and cut down the saint in the middle of Mass, in a church now dedicated to the Bishop, outside the then-walls of Krakow. He is one of the patron saints of Poland.
Need it be said that we should pray for a bit more such parrhesia in our bishops, indeed for all the faithful, ourselves included, that ‘boldness’ and courage to which Saint Paul urges us, not caring much what the world thinks, but preaching the Gospel and its truths, in season and out, with clarity and simplicity.