Friday, April 11, 2008
Saint Stanislas, Bishop and Martyr
Święty Stanisław ze Szczepanowa, Biskupa i Męczennika, Głównego Patrona Polski.
Martyrdom window. Shrine Church of Saint Stanislaus. Cleveland, O.
O God, our father in heaven to honor you, Saint Stanislas faced martyrdom with courage. Keep us strong and loyal in our faith until death.
Saint Stanislas Szczepanowski, *1039, was elected Bishop of Krakow in December 1071 and took the office after commanded by Pope Alexander II. A successor, to that Krakovian see, became our last pope, John Paul II. He recognised Stanislas as the patron saint of moral order.
With the passing of centuries, and a sceptical and blasé public, history is regarded as a devolved legend. Stanislas was born to noble parents who had been childless for thirty years. He went on to the University of Paris, but refused a doctorate. Upon returning, in 1059, he gave away his inheritance and became a priest. His stature and actions were well known and received and respected. He rose in position as canon, in 1062, and preacher at the cathedral, and as vicar general under bishop Lambert Zula.
The man who became king in 1076 (previously grand duke), Boleslas II Śmiały, *c.1040, †1081, (the Bold or Fierce) was a warrior prince, who twice took Kiev and was greatly involved in the military conflicts of eastern and central Europe. He was wild and willful, careless and cruel, and uncontrolled. He had many lusts and brooked no opposition.
The two would conflict more than once, first over land, which was resolved, in the hagiographies, by the previous owner, Piotr, coming out of his grave to give testimony. Later, Stanislas excommunicated Boleslas over his lust, cruelty and greed. Boleslas declares Stanislas guilty of treason, and sentences him to truncatio membrorum. His knights would not carry this out. The king, himself, kills the saint, in the church of Saint Michael on the hill of the Rock (Skalka), outside of Krakow, during mass on. Then the sentence of dismemberment was done upon a log.
This murder was not taken well, by the populace, and revolt, and invasion ensued. In July of 1079, the king flees Poland and, eventually, ends his days in a Benedictine monastery at Osjak, Carinthia (Slovenija).
Miracles of healing occurred at Stanislas’s grave and later at his tomb in the Wawel cathedral. It became a pilgrimage site. Most of the later kings of Poland were crowned kneeling before his silver coffin, which was later desecrated by heretical, Swedish invaders during the Deluge (Potop) 1655-60.
Stanislas was canonised by Pope Innocent IV on 17 September 1253 in the Basilica of Assisi. His canonisation trial was a first use of the system that led to a devil’s advocate*. His feast had been on the 7th of May, it is celebrated on the 8th in Krakow, with the calendraic revision, it is now on the 11th of April.
Franz Liszt, worked twelve years on and completed the first and fourth movements of an oratorio on Stanislas, the conflict and martyrdom lay unfinished. The legend of eagles gathering his limbs has inspired patriots, over the centuries, as a metaphor of fragmentation of the country.† This was not the first or last musical composition concerning the saint. The Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyła, for the 900th anniversary of martyrdom, had commissioned Henryk Górecki to compose, Beatus vir. Which was premiered on the pope’s return to Poland. Vincent of Kielce (Wincenty z Kielc) O.P. wrote two histories with music, Historia gloriosissimi Stanislai, c. 1250 and 1260.
In 1170 Henry II requested his knights to kill archbishop Thomas à Becket. They did him slay in the cathedral. Boleslas had to draw his own sword to kill his bishop. Advocates of the crown over the mitre hold the charges of treason. There are people in El Salvador who regard, Oscar Romero,†1980, in the same fashion. To defend the church, and to defend the people against the desires and trepidations of the state is not safe, and there are those whom, always, side with the state.
The actor, Paul Scofield, has recently died. He portrayed Saint Thomas More in the pictures. More was executed for his absolute reluctance to speak in favor of all the acts of King Henry VIII. The Tudor historian, G.R. Elton, finds More a traitor. Some judge martyrs as criminals. Hobbesian power rests in the sovereign, but justice rests with God. Power jealousy desires absolute power.
Jerzy Popiełuszko, a priest at St. Stanislas Kostka church in a Warsaw suburb, spoke for the church, and the people, and the Solidarity (Solidarność) union against the communist government. The nation listened to his words. He had been arrested, and targeted before, and his full number of days were not to be completed. He was kidnapped by police (Służba Bezpieczeństwa) on 19 October 1984 . Eleven days later his beaten body was found in the Vistula. 250,000 people came to his funeral. His cause began in 1997. He was remembered, by Andrzej Panufnik, in a Bassoon Concerto (1985). Artists and patriots love the romance of the soul whose gestures are grand.
*Advocatus Diaboli, Devil's Advocate or Promoter of the Faith, Promotor Fidei position officially established 1587; disestablished 1983.
†from the 15th century, Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae (The Annals of Jan Długosz): “hacked into myriad pieces which the King orders to be thrown here and there about the city for the dogs, vultures, crows and other predators to eat”, then the eagles come, and people reassemble the corpse from all the red and white pieces, hence the symbolism of the polish flag.