Saints of the Society of Jesus: Saint Stanislaus Kostka

13 November, Confessor

Saint Stanislaus was born in the autumn of 1550. From his infancy so great was his love of purity that he swooned on hearing anything contrary to that holy virtue. Indeed he is believed never to have experienced a temptation in this respect. This was owing to a special protection of the Blessed Virgin Mother, who treated him during all his life as a child of predilection. This motherly care received in return from Stanislaus a most confiding devotion. “Do you love the Blessed Virgin?” he was asked in his novitiate. “She is my mother,” he answered. These simple words made such an impression on the Father to whom they were said, on account of the tone of the utterance, that he repeated them to Saint Francis Borgia, then General of the Society, for his consolation and edification. Our Lady protected Stanislaus during his conflicts at Vienna with his brother Paul and their heretical tutor, who wished to force him to lead a worldly life, and during his flight to the novitiate. When his persecutors refused to let him have a priest in his illness, he invoked Saint Barbara not to let him die without viaticum, and she appeared to him with two angels, from whose hands he received the holy sacrament of the body of Our Lord. A few days later Our Lady appeared to him herself, with the divine Infant, Whom she placed in his arms. Once, during his flight, he is overtaken by his brother, who does not recognize him. The servants, suspecting it is he, desire to go in pursuit ; but the horses will not budge. At Augsburg he was received into the Society by Blessed Peter Canisius, and sent to Rome. He received the holy habit on the s8th of October, 1566. On the feast of the Assumption of the following year his soul went to heaven. He had made a novena to Saint Lawrence, his patron saint of the month, that he might celebrate that feast with the angels. At the same time he wrote a letter to Our Lady, which he placed in his breast, but which was not found after his death, proffering the same request. No one believed that he was going to die with his apparently trifling ailment but himself. It was the morning of the Assumption. One last visit Our Lady made to her favorite child ; accompanied by a troop of virgins, she appeared to him, and then Stanislaus went to dwell with her and her divine Son in heaven forever.

Whence the simplicity of Saint Stanislaus? Was it merely the innocence and ingenuousness of a child? We should be children to think so. Saint Agnes was only thirteen when she laid down her life for Him Whom alone she loved in this world. Some souls become perfect in a very short while. The simplicity of the saints comes from the perfection of their union with God. The more they grow in this union, the more edification they give to all around them; when it is complete, then they are ripe for heaven. In vain did Stanislaus rush into the open air and bare his breast and bathe it with cold water to cool the ardor of divine love which burned within him. Death only could give him relief. Saint Stanislaus died in his novitiate; Saint John Berchmans in the early part of his studies; Saint Aloysius before he was ordained a priest. The gift of these three young saints to the Society of Jesus is a unique favor; perhaps it was because the Society is an Order which devotes itself specially to the education of the young. At any rate, they all three are models for the youth of both sexes. Note that they were all three favored sons of our most Blessed Lady.

Saint Stanislaus Kostka is honored as a special patron of Poland, his native country. Several times he has appeared, encouraging its soldiers in fighting against the infidel. Immediately after Stanislaus’ death, his brother, Paul Kostka, began a life of extraordinary penance and died in the odor of sanctity. Bilinski his preceptor, repented also, and was visited by Saint Stanislaus on his death-bed.