Today, March 4th, the universal Church honors St. Casimir of Poland, “The Peace-maker.”
Our saint was born in Poland in 1458, the third of thirteen children to King Casimir IV, King of Poland, and Queen Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Albert II.
John Dlugosz, a great historian and a man of incredible learning and holiness, taught Casimir, wherein Casimir learned from John’s example and wonderful scholarship. From childhood, Casimir was devout and faithful, having a substantial prayer life accompanied by penance. He wore plain clothes, sometimes a hair shirt to do penance, but he was cheerful and full of joy to everyone.
He loved the poor and gave them his possessions. He loved the Blessed Mother of God, Mary, wherein he sang the hymn, “Daily, Daily Sing To Mary,” which is also called the “Hymn of St. Casimir,” even though this hymn was actually composed by Bernard of Cluny in the 12th century.
The Hungarian nobles were unhappy with King Matthias Corvinus, and in 1471, requested the King of Poland, Casimir’s father, to allow Casimir to serve as their king. Casimir was only 15 years old at this time, but at their request, was made their king, heading up an army and going to the frontier since the former King Matthias established an army to overthrow King Casimir, but many in his army deserted because they were not paid by King Matthias. Nevertheless, the conflict continued and was not solved which angered Casimir’s father. He ordered his son to return to Cracow where he was relegated to remain in a castle. At this point, the young Casimir decided he wanted no further part of politics and war. He would never again take up arms, even though his father urged him to do so as well as the Hungarian nobles.
Casimir returned to his studies and his devotions. On one occasion he served as the viceroy in Poland during one of his father’s absences. He imposed celibacy upon himself, and chose to live an austere life.
Our saint experienced health problems involving his respiratory system, wherein he died at the young age of 23 in 1484. His relics rest in the church of St. Stanislaus. People reported that miracles occurred at his tomb. He was canonized in 1521.
From the very beginning of his life, St. Casimir prioritized the Triune God in his life, disengaging from the materialism and politics of his world. He had the wisdom to do this, even in spite of all of the opportunities presented to him by his kingly status. He rather served “The King of Heaven,” as opposed to serving politics and being involved in continuing conflicts. He lived an uncomplicated life, desiring to live in simplicity. He opined that the conflicts in question were more political in nature only, not worthy of his priorities, a sort of war of nobles v. nobles so to speak. Let us remember his example of simplicity and love of God, rejecting superfluous demands of society.
St. Casimir, pray for us!
Source: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh