Saint Adalbert of Prague

Saint Adalbert of Prague and Saint Stanislaus- major Polish patrons 

Saint Adalbert of Prague was born about 956 in Lubice (in Czech Republic). Both his parents came from the rich and noble families. Father was related to Sas Dynasty ruling in Europe on that time. Adalbert was a sixth of seven sons. At the beginning he was to become a knight but after serious disease his parents decided to meant him for the priesthood. At the age of 27 he became the first Bishop of Prague and Czech. Unfortunately on that time the situation of the Church was very difficult. The clergy and the nobles family ignored their Bishop’s rebukes. Polygamy, rejecting feasts, breaking fast, the clergy’s the marriages were problems he had to face up with.

After 5 years when he saw that his rebukes were useless he left his capitol and went to Rome to ask the Pope to release him from Bishop’s duties. The Pope John XV let him only rest for a while. Adalbert decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After returning to Rome at St. Nilus’s insistence he decided to enter the Benedictine Monaster in Rome. In 992 he was ordered to go back to Praque. However, because of disagreement with one of the noble family he put a curse on  them and in consequence he had to escape to save his life. He went again to Rome in the secret. After the Pope’s death, the next synod ordered  him to go back to his homeland. But Czechs didn’t want him to come back. That is why he decided to go to Poland with Otto’s III approval and later to on mission. Polish king Bolesław Chrobry welcomed him and for Adalbert’s  request he organized the missionary expedition to Prussia.He wentthere with his brother Radzim and translator Benedykt Bogusza.

On April 23, 997 the armed group of Prussians surrounded the three missionaries. They speared St. Adalbert’ body and cut off his head. He was killed at the age of 41. Other two missionaries were released. Prussians proposed the Polish king buying St . Adalbert’s body. Bolesław Chrobry brought solemnly his body to Gniezno (the capitol of Poland on that time). When Emperor Otto III heard about his friend’s death, he sent message to the Pope asking him for Adalbert’s canonisation.

It was the first canonisation in the Church history appointed by the Pope because by this time the Bishops had canonised the saints. In March 1000 Otto III went on pilgrimage to the grave of St. Adalbert in Gniezno. There he met with Polish king, Boleslaw Chrobry, and established metropolis in Gniezno with dioceses in Cracow, Kolobrzeg and Wroclaw.

St. Adalbert is one of three patrons of Poland with the Our Lady of Queen of Poland and St. Stanislaus( Sw. Stanislaw) from Szczepanow.

Places in Poland connected with St. Adalbert  of Prague (in Polish Sw.Wojciech)

l  Gniezno (the town in Wielkopolska) : Bazylika Prymasowska Sanktuarium Św.Wojciecha (the Shrine of St.Adalbert)

SAINT STANISLAUS

Saint Stanislaus was born about 1030 in Szczepanow near Cracow. At the first he was taught at his home. Next he probably studied in Tyniec, in Benedictine monastery and in famous collegial school in Leodium (now Liege in Belgium) He was ordained in 1060 and 10 years later he became the Bishop of Cracow. His extreme success was to force  the Pope  Gregory VII  to reintroduce the  metropolis in Gniezno and  to make Polish dioceses independent from metropolis in Magdeburgia.

St. Stanislaus let know himself as a zealous and uncompromising priest. It led to the conflict with Polish king Bolesław Smialy. The reasons of it are not known but according to tradition the main reason was that Saint Stanislaus admonished the king  for his behaviour towards his subjects and to everybody’s indignation. It  was really brave to stand out for subjects and  he was aware of  consequences of that. He was summoned to appear in the Royal Court but even if he had wanted he couldn’t have done it because he wasn’t allowed by Canon Law. In consequence the king sentenced the saint to death. On  April 11, 1079  during the Holy Mass in the St Michael’s Church (Kosciół Św.Michała) on Skałka (in Cracow) St. Stanislaw was hit over the head with axe by the royal servants  and died at  king’s hand himself. Then the king ordered to quarter St.Stanislaus’s body.

Despite custom that the bodies of people convicted to death were completely damaged, the clergy buried him with honour in the Saint Michael’s Church (Kosciół Św. Michała) in Cracow . It was prove how much the bishop Stanislaus was respected by the contemporaries.

When the people heard about this cruel murder of their Bishop, all nation stood out against their King. Finally in consequences of this fact the king, left by everybody, was forced to flee the country. He never came back.

In 1088 the St. Stanislaus relics were transferred to the Wawel Cathedral in Cracow.

He was canonised on September 17, 1253. In 1963 the Pope John XXIII appointed St. Stanislaw the patron of Poland

Places in Poland connected with St. Stanislaus

- Cracow (Krakow): The Wawel Royal Cathedral www.katedra-wawelska.pl