St Stanislaus, Bishop

Acts 5.27-33; Psalm 33; John 3.31-36

Stanislaus (1030-79) was born of noble parents in Szczepanow near Kraków.  He was educated at the Cathedral school in Gniezno, then the capital of Poland.  He then undertook university studies at Paris, and upon his return to Poland he was ordained a priest and became known as a preacher and as a spiritual adviser.  In 1072 he was elected Bishop of Kraków, but he accepted the office only upon the direct instruction of Pope Alexander II.  

Legend has it that he came into conflict  with  King Bolesław II the Bold over a land dispute.  Stanislaus had purchased for diocesan use a property on the banks of the Vistula near Lublin from a certain Piotr, but Piotr died and his relatives claimed the land for the family; the King sided with the family and ordered the land returned to them.  Stanislaus in full episcopal regalia is said to have led a procession to the graveyard where Piotr’s grave was opened.  Stanislaus called Piotr to rise and he did so and proceeded to castigate his sons.  He was brought before an astonished King, who then reversed his earlier judgement.  Piotr then asked to return to his grave.

Other conflicts with Bolesław followed.  The King was accused of cruelty to his subjects and ultimately Stanislaus excommunicated him.  The King charged Stanislaus with treason and sent his men to execute him, but they feared to touch the bishop.  The King decided that he must kill Stanislaus himself and did so whilst the Bishop was celebrating a mass outside the walls of Kraków.  The martyred Stanislaus has long been considered the outstanding symbol of Polish nationhood.  He is the principal patron of Kraków.

Posted in Daily Reflection.