St Casimir/Kazimierz
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska

St Casimir was born October 5, 1458, the third of thirteen children. He was given the title "The Peacemaker" by the Polish people. St. Casimir died March 4, 1482/4. His father was Casimir IV, "the Great," King of Poland. His mother was Queen Elizabeth of Habsburg (D: 1505), the daughter of Emperor Albrecht II of Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. In 1471, St. Casimir (not yet a saint) was elected King of Hungary, which he denied, since he wished to lead a monastic life.

Casimir showed his devotion to God in his love for the poor, and he gave all his worldly goods, and got many of his relatives to give their monies as well. In honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Casimir often recited the long Latin hymn Omni die dic Mariae, a copy of which he asked to be buried with. This work was later refered to as the hymn of St. Casimir, but it was composed by the Bishop of Cluny in the twelfth century.

The nobles of Hungary begged the King of Poland to allow them to place his son, Casimir on the throne to replaced the unpopular Mattias Corvinus. Casimir was only fourteen years old at the time, and gave his unwilling consent, and went to the frontier to lead an army. Casimir returned from battle when word was sent to him that Matthias' men were deserting because they were not getting paid their wages. Casimir the King also received a message from Pope Sixtus IV telling him (the King) not to sent his troops since the war was breaking up. St. Casimir thought he was doing right by returning home, but his father was enraged. He would not permit his young son to return to Cracow, and relegated him to the castle of Dobzki. The young Casimir was confined there for three months, on his father's orders. Casimir had a lot of time to ponder on the injustices of war. He never again entered into warfare of any kind. He was disappointed by his father's treatment of him, and his father entreated him to do his bidding in the war against the Hungarian ruler, Matthias Corvinus. He was labelled as a "coward" for not taking up the call to arms. He returned to his studies and for a brief time was a viceroy in Poland while his father was absent. St. Casimir was then ordered to marry. However, he had taken a vow of celibacy, so he refused Emperor Frederick III's offer of his daughter.

All this time, Casimir was sick with lung troubles. His suffering from tuberculosis kept him from many tasks, and later was the cause of his demise. His father forgave him and was consigned to his monastic lifestyle.

Casimir's brother Wladislaw Jagiello was King of Bohemia from 1471-1516, and King of Hungary in 1490. Wladislaw married (1) Beatrice of Aragon, daughter of Ferrent I of Aragon, and Naples. His brother Jan I Olbracht was king of Poland from 1492-1501. Jan was the Polish Henry VIII. Many have said that Jan had a passion for reading, drink, dancing, love, dressed like a peacock, and worshipped pleasure. Aleksander (another brother) was king of Poland from 1501-1506. His reign was very short lived, but he was loved by his subjects. Another brother who became king was Sigismund/Zygmunt I, king of Poland from 1505-1548, Albert was enthroned, and his youngest brother, Frederyk was a Cardinal (1493), Bishop of Krakow, and Archbishop of Gnesen. Casimir's seven sisters married various royal offspring around Europe. St. Casimir was born on October 3, 1458 in the royal palce of Cracow. His grandfather was Wladislaus II Jagiello, king of Poland. Casimir died on March 4, 1482, at the age of 24, of tuberculosis, in Vilna (or Grodno) the capital of Lithuania. His remains rest in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin in the cathedral of Vilna.

He was canonized by Pope Leo X.


St. Casimir's Family Tree



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