The Catholic Defender: Saint Casimir
St. Casimir was born on October 3, 1485. He was a Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Poland, and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. He was noted for his charity and help with the needy, and turned down the hand of marriage to a Princess. Some say it was because he wanted to remain celibate, and also, he knew his passing would come at a young age.
At the age of 24, he came down with tuberculosis. He became more ill, and passed away at the age of 25. He was declared the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania. In 1948, Pope Pius XII named St. Casimir the special patron of all youth.
Casimir, born of kings and in line to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. As a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy.
Born the third of thirteen children in 1461, Casimir was committed to God from childhood. Some of that commitment was the result of a tutor, John Dlugosz, whose holiness encouraged Casimir on his own journey.
Casimir realized from an early age that his life belonged to someone else, but to a much higher King than his father. Despite pressure, humiliation, and rejection, he stood by that loyalty through his whole life.
At the age of 13, Casimir participated in the failed military campaign to install him as King of Hungary. He became known for his piety, devotion to God, and generosity towards the sick and poor. He became ill (most likely with tuberculosis) and died at the age of 25.
When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir’s father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their governments. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the “enemy”; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home.
His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter.
Rejecting even ordinary comforts, he slept little, spending his nights in prayer. And when he did sleep, he lay on the floor not on a royal bed. Even though he was a prince, many of those around him must have laughed and joked at his choices. Yet, in the face of any pressure, Casimir was always friendly and calm.
He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father’s absence. He died of lung trouble at 25 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Though his father must have wondered about him, he must have seen and admired Casimir's strength. He showed that he misunderstood this strength when he sent Casimir as head of an army to take over the throne of Hungary at the request of some nobles there. Casimir felt the whole expedition was wrong but was convinced to go out of obedience to his father. He could not help but feel at every step that it was disobedient to his other Father. So when soldiers started deserting, he was only too glad to listen to the advice of his officers and turn back home. His feelings were confirmed when he discovered that Pope Sixtus IV had opposed the move.
He died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called "Omni die dic Mariae" which we know as "Daily, Daily Sing to Mary." Because of his love for the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn't write it.
Daily, daily sing to Mary; Sing, my soul, her praises due. All her glorious actions cherish, With the heart’s devotion true. Lost in wond’ring contemplation, Be her majesty confessed! Call her Mother, call her Virgin,
On June 11th, 1948, Pope Pius XII named Saint Casimir the special patron of all youth. St. Casimir was born on October 3, 1485. He was a Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Poland, and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
On March 4, the Catholic Church honors Saint Casimir Jagiellon, a prince whose life of service to God has made him a patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and young people.
One of the first miracles attributed to Casimir was his appearance before the Lithuanian army during the Siege of Polotsk in 1518. Casimir showed where Lithuanian troops could safely cross the Daugava River and relieve the city, besieged by the army of the Grand Duchy of Moscow.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II addressed Lithuanian pilgrims commemorating the 500th anniversary of the prince's death. He said the Church “proclaimed Casimir a saint and placed him before us not only to be venerated but also that we might imitate his heroic virtues and follow his example of holiness.”
“To all,” the Pope said, “he was a shining example of poverty and of sacrificial love for the poor and needy.”
“His life of purity and prayer beckons you to practice your faith with courage and zeal, to reject the deceptive attractions of modern permissive society, and to live your convictions with fearless confidence and joy.”
Patron Saint of Poland, Lithuania, and Lithuanian youth
Believed to have been canonized by Pope Leo X in 1521 or Pope Adrian VI in 1522
Canonization confirmed by Pope Clement VIII in 1602
Liturgical Color: White (Purple if Lenten Weekday)