Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Saints are very important symbols in Catholic countries – such as Poland. They are patrons of the country, cities, as well as churches, convents or protectors of trades and professions. They usually are known for their pious life, supporting Christianity (including dying for it – in case of martyrs) and miracles they do. Poland, as culturally Catholic country, pays a lot of attention to its Saints. Below you will find the most popular Polish male saints of Medieval Times.
Saint Wojciech (Adalbert) – he was actually of Czech origin but is one of the most important saints in Poland as he is the one who introduced Christianity in Polish lands. He lived in 10th century and was a bishop of Prague and martyr who was killed in his efforts to bring Christian faith into Prussian tribes. His life and death were so important as his mission among Baltic Prussians was initiated by Polish king – Boleslaw Chrobry. Before the converting acts were performed only by Roman Empire. He was buried in Gniezno – the capital city of Poland of those days.
Saint Stanislaw – this 11th century Bishop became the first Saint of Polish origin. His misunderstandings with Polish king led to the death of the bishop. The legend says that the king – Boleslaw the Bold – killed the bishop himself for not being loyal to the ruler during the mass in one of Krakow churches. According to the same legend Stanislaw’s cut into pieces body grew together miraculously. Almost 200 years later Saint Stanislaw was canonized becoming the first Polish saint and later on the patron of Poland.
Saint Jacek – he lived between 11th and 12th century. He was born in a noble family of the Odrowazs – and his uncle was a bishop of Krakow, Iwo Odrowaz, who invited the order of Saint Dominic to Poland. The wish of Saint Dominic was that some Poles join the convent therefore Saint Jacek and blessed Czeslaw were sent to Rome. They were among the last monks who took the vows directly from Saint Dominic. The legend says that when the Tartars invaded Kiev (where Jacek was at that time based) and all the monks were advised to flee from the church, Saint Jacek took Eucharist. When he was just about to leave the church, he heard the voice of Saint Mary asking him not to leave her alone. He took the sculpture of Saint Mary – which lost its weight and became as light as a feather – and brought it to Krakow. That is why Saint Jacek is most of the time depicted carrying sculpture of Saint Mary.
Jan Kanty (or simply Jan from Kety) – 15th century Polish saint. He studied in Krakow and in 1418 he received Master of Arts at Jagiellonian University. Afterwards he took the vows at Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. He made multiple pilgrimages to Rome. He was known for his pious life. The legend says that when he was going through the forest he was robbed by couple men. He gave them all the money he had. In a short while he realized that there was one ‘grosz’ (coin of the smallest denomination in Poland) left in his pocket. He ran after the robbers and gave them his last coin. They were so shocked that they gave back all the money they previously had taken. Jan Kanty’s relics are kept in Baroque church of Saint Anna in Krakow.
Blessed Izajasz Boner – according to the legend he derived from wealthy Polish family and received good education. At the age of 20 he joined the order of Augustinians – his civil name is not known exactly (it might have been Fryderyk or Ambrozy). He became even the lecturer at the Jagiellonian University. He was especially know among the citizens as loyal and generous priest. He was especially helping the poor and the needing ones. The legend says that once – when praying to Saint Mary – he brought back to life a child. Izajasz lived in 15th century Poland. His close friends were other saints and blessed such as Jan from Kety, Szymon from Lipnica and Michal Giedroyc.
There are many saints that are famous among the Poles. The presented above individuals are only some of them. Catholic tradition of Poland pays a lot of attention to those men who became popular because of their modest and pious life.