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St. Stanislaus Kostka

Saint Stanislaus Kostka, S.J.
1550 – 1568

Born to Polish nobility, the son of a senator.

Attended the Viennese Jesuit college from age 14

with his brother Paul who badly mistreated him. 

While staying at the home of a Lutheran,

he became gravely ill but was  not allowed to call for a priest. 

He prayed to his personal patron, Saint Barbara,

who appeared to him in a vision with two angels

and administered Communion.

He was then cured from his disease by Our Lady

who told him to become a Jesuit,

though it was against his family’s wishes. 

Attended the Jesuit College in Rome, Italy. 

Friend of Saint Peter Canisius. 

Jesuit novice from October 28, 1567. 

Student of Saint Francis Borgia.

 

Biography of Saint Stanislaus Kostka

Stanislaus Kostka was only 18 years old when he died and had been a Jesuit novice for less than a year. He is one of the popular saints of Poland and many religious institutions have chosen him as the protector of their novitiates.

He was born in 1550 at the family estate in east-central Poland. His father was a local governor and military administrator and a senator of the Kingdom of Poland. His mother was the sister and niece of Polish dukes. According to the standards of those times, all this meant Stanislaus was a Polish noble destined for public life.

When he was 14, his father enrolled him and his older brother Paul in a new Jesuit college in Vienna that was especially favored by the nobility. Paul, who always had an eye for comfort, found them rooms in the house of an Austrian senator.

Stanislaus was a serious and quiet person. He avoided all unnecessary contact with visitors, applied himself to his studies, dressed plainly for a noble and spent so much time in prayer that Paul derisively nicknamed him “the Jesuit.” Paul interpreted Stanislaus’ natural meekness and humility as a reproach to his own worldly and care free way of life. Whatever Stanislaus did either offended or irritated him. So, he harassed his younger brother abusing him physically and verbally. Stanislaus did not crack under pressure.  He just became more virtuous and determined to become a Jesuit.

In December 1565, Stanislaus received some heavenly help. Feeling ill and close to death, he asked to receive Holy Communion. Paul kept putting him off, saying the illness was not life-threatening. Their landlord was a staunch Lutheran and would not allow a priest into the house. Stanislaus prayed to Saint Barbara to somehow receive Communion and soon Barbara and two angels appeared to him in his room bringing him Communion. They left, and then Our Lady carrying the baby Jesus appeared and told him he was to enter the Society of Jesus. Stanislaus regained his health and returned to college.

Now really resolved to be a Jesuit, Stanislaus asked the Jesuit provincial of Vienna for admittance, only to be told he needed his parents’ consent.  Stanislaus knew they would not give it and decided to ask further away from home. In August 1567, he walked the 450 miles to Augsburg, Germany.  Paul heard of it and started after him. Stanislaus was dressed as a simple pilgrim, and the angry Paul went right past him on the road without recognizing him and gave up the chase.

Stanislaus reached the Augsburg provincial, Father Peter Canisius, S.J., and together they agreed that Stanislaus ought to get even further away from his father’s political influence. They decided on Rome.  In September 1567, he and two Jesuits went on foot south through Germany and over the Alps to Italy.  It took a month to reach Rome.

There Stanislaus presented himself to the head of the Society of Jesus, Father General Francis Borgia, S.J., and entered the Jesuit novititate. For the next ten months his prayer was purified and his union with God grew more intense.

In early August 1567, Stanislaus had a premonition that he would die on August 15th.  He took sick on the 10th and on the 14th he told the infirmarian that he would die the next day but this Jesuit shrugged it off; the patient did not seem critically ill. The suddenly he worsened. After receiving Holy Communion and Last Rites, he chatted cheerfully with his fellow novices until nightfall. After they left, he prayed often, “My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready!” About 3:00 a.m. his face lit up joyfully. He said Our Lady was approaching with her court of angels and saints to take him to heaven. Then he died – on August 15th, the feast of Our Lady’s own assumption into heaven.

Only 36 years after his death, he was beatified in 1605.  His older brother, Paul, was present at his beatification. He was canonized on December 31, 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII.  His feast day is November 13th.

 





Saint Stanislaus Kostka Church
225 MacArthur Avenue    ♦    Sayreville, NJ 08872-1041   ♦    732-254-0212