Image: Reliquary of Saint Casimir | Vilnius Cathedral | photo by Albertus teolog
Saint of the Day for March 4
(1458 – 1483)
Saint Casimir’s Story
Casimir, born of kings and in line to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. As a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy.
When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir’s father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their governments. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the “enemy”; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home.
His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter.
He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father’s absence. He died of lung trouble at 25 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Commemorating † The Feast of Prince Saint Casimir,
Patron Saint of Poland and Lithuania †
Saint Casimir is the Patron Saint of
Poland and Lithuania
Saint Casimir, Prince of Poland, was born in the royal palace at Krakow A.D. October 3, 1458.
When King Casimir IV went to Lithuania to arrange affairs there his son, Prince Saint Casimir was placed in charge of Poland and from A.D. 1481 to 1483. He administered the State with great prudence and justice. He fell sick, and died at the court of Grodno A.D. 3 March 1484.
Comments of Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira :
I would like to emphasize that Saint Casimir lived in the royal court of his parents, King Casimir IV the Great, and Queen Elizabeth of Habsburg, to emphasize he lived his entire life at court and within that environment, he became a saint nonetheless.
Sometimes, because of a certain erroneous vision of sanctity, one is led to think that only persons in the religious life – priests, monks and nuns – can become saints. According to this mentality, it is so rare for a layperson to become a saint that one who does so should be considered an exception to the rule, a kind of miracle. However a lay saint is not an exception to the rule; it is the normal accomplishment of the plan of Divine Providence for lay persons.
The fact that Saint Casimir became a saint living in a royal court shows that the court was a place where one can live to be a saint. In this sense, it constitutes a kind of eulogy to the ambiance in which he lived. This fact refutes the revolutionary propaganda that says that the courts were necessarily corrupt. Frequently, as we can verify on our calendar, there were saints who were kings and queens, saints who were princes and princesses, and saints who were nobles. Very often sanctity perfumed the courts. Therefore, those courts, instead of being seats of moral corruption and perdition, were often places where sanctity trove, flourished, and exerted a considerable influence.
In this sense, the ambiance of court in many ways realized the ideal of Christian Civilization. What should an ideal court be in a Christian Civilization? The king is an earthly image of God, and his court should be an image of the heavenly court. In an ideal Catholic court, the saintly king would be surrounded by courtesans who should be images of the angels and saints before God thrice holy. Now, the fact that this ideal has been partially realized at certain times in History is something that should fill us with joy. These examples show that the Catholic courts were good, and they also demonstrate how the revolutionary propaganda lies when it talks about the courts.
Someone could object and say that in one thousand years of history, anyone can find anything to prove a thesis. Therefore, just because many saints can be found in the courts, this does not prove what I said.
I can answer this objection. First, the argument is not true. If it were true, we should have a proportional number of saints in the governments and representative houses of the liberal republican system. This system has been established almost everywhere since the American and French Revolutions – for more than 200 years. We do not find saints, however, flourishing in these political ambiances, but quite the opposite.
Second, according to the laws of history, normally great virtue or great vice does not appear isolated. It appears, to use a metaphor, like a mountain peak on a whole chain of mountains. That means that if you have a saint in one place, surrounding him you normally have a number of people who are very good Catholics even though they are not saints, a greater number of upright people, and a multitude of just decent people. Sanctity is the greatest fruit of a whole social group that aspires to follow Our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, by showing that many saints existed in the Catholic courts of times past, we demonstrate that those ambiances were compatible with sanctity and good on many levels. So, the saints who lived in those courts were not just exceptional cases, but reflections of the whole.
I want to think Prince Saint Casimir is pleased that we are remembering these devout aspects of his character. I pray that from his heavenly place he will seek His intercession in strengthening and protecting us in our counter-revolutionary holy fight against the evils of modernism and novelty.