St. Casimir, Prince of Poland and “Father of the Poor”
The saint of the day for March 4 is St. Casimir of Poland, a prince whose life of service to God has made him a patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and young people. He is also the patron saint of bachelors and is represented by a crown and a lily (which symbolizes purity.)
Casimir was born on October 3, 1458, the third of thirteen children of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, daughter of Albert II of Habsburg. He and several of his brothers studied with the priest and historian John Dlugosz, whose deep piety and political expertise influenced Casimir in his upbringing. The young prince displayed holiness at an early age. In contrast to the other members of the royal court, he was a shining example of faith, piety, humility, and chastity. He had a great love for the Eucharist and for the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Hungarian nobles prevailed upon Casimir’s father to send his 13-year-old son to be their king; Casimir obeyed, taking the crown, but refusing to exercise power. His army was outnumbered, his troops deserting because they were not paid. Casimir returned home, and was a conscientious objector from that time on.
Casimir foretold the hour of his death, and chose to die a virgin, refusing the advice of physicians who told him to marry, suggesting that this would improve his health and possibly prolong his life.
St. Casimir was a charismatic person who was noted for his strong sense of justice and for his charity. In an atmosphere of luxury and magnificence the young prince fasted, wore a hair-shirt, slept upon the bare earth, prayed by night, and watched for the opening of the church doors at dawn.
His charity to the poor and afflicted knew no bounds. The young prince consoled the poor with his gracious words, and frequently helped with generous alms. He was known to visit the sick and served them in their needs counting it an honor as he saw in the afflicted one the person of Christ Himself. Thus he earned the title, “Father of the poor.”
He expressed his deep love for our Blessed Lady by frequently singing a beautiful hymn in her honor. He was buried with this favorite song to Our Lady — a Latin hymn to Mary called “Omni die dic Mariae” which we know as “Daily, Daily Sing to Mary.”
Casimir died at the age of 26 on March 4, 1484, a victim of tuberculosis. Buried at Vilnius, Lithuania, his tomb became famed for many miracles. He was canonized in 1522 by Pope Adrian VI.
to serve you is to reign:
by the prayers of Saint Casimir,
help us to serve you in holiness and justice.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.