St. Stanislas Kostka
Born at Rostkovo near Prasnysz, Poland, about October 28, 1550; died at Rome during the night of
14-15 August, 1568. He entered the Society of Jesus at Rome, October 28, 1567, and is said to have foretold his death a few days before it occurred. His father, John Kostka, was a senator of the
Kingdom of Poland and Lord of Zakroczym; his mother was Margaret de Drobniy Kryska, the sister and niece of the Dukes Palatine of Masovia and the aunt of the celebrated Chancellor of Poland,
Felix Kryski. The marriage was blessed with seven children, of whom Stanislas was the second. His older brother Paul survived him long enough to be present at the celebration of the beatification of
Stanislas in 1605.
The thought of joining the Society of Jesus had already entered the mind of the saintly young man. It was six months, however, before he ventured to speak of this to the superiors of the
Society. At Vienna they hesitated to receive him, fearing the tempest that would probably be raised by his father against the Society, which had just quieted a storm that had broken out on account of other admissions to the Company. Stanislas quickly grasped the situation and formed the plan of applying to the general of the Society at Rome. The distance was five hundred leagues, which had to be made on foot, without equipment, or guide, or any other resources but the precarious charity that might be received on the road. The prospective dangers and humiliations of such a journey, however, did not alarm his courage. On the morning of the day on which he was to carry out his project he called his servant to him early and told him to notify his brother Paul and his tutor in the course of the morning that he would not be back that day to dinner. Then he started, taking the first opportunity to exchange the dress of gentleman for that of a mendicant, which was the only way to escape the curiosity of those he might meet. By nightfall Paul and the tutor comprehended that Stanislas had turned from them as he had threatened. They were seized with a fierce anger, and as the day was ended the fugitive had gained twenty-four hours over them. They started to follow him, but were not able to overtake him; either their exhausted horses refused to go farther, or a wheel of their carriage would break, or, as the tutor frankly declared, they had mistaken the route, having left the city by a
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