Summary: St Stanislaus is often called ‘The Martyr’ to distinguish him from the young Jesuit novice St Stanislaus Kostka. Traditionally he is regarded as the patron of Poland, but he is also venerated in Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine.
Patrick Duffy gathers together some information about his life.
Priest and bishop at Krakow
Stanislaus was born in 1030 of noble and pious parents at Szczcepanow and was educated at the cathedral school at Gniezno, then the capital of Poland, and possibly at Paris. He was ordained priest and served as a canon of the cathedral at Krakow. He was elected bishop of Krakow in 1072. He gained a reputation as a preacher and benefactor of the poor.
Conflict with Boleslaus the Bold
Stanislaus came into conflict with Boleslaus II, called the Bold, who by asserting his power in Bohemia, Hungary and south Russia, became king of Poland in 1076. Stanislaus had reproved him for abducting a nobleman’s wife and, when he refused to repent, excommunicated him. Boleslaus attacked and murdered Stanislaus while he was saying Mass. For this the pope, Gregory VII, with whom Boleslaus had previously made an alliance against Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire, put Poland under interdict. The murder caused outrage and soon the nobles revolted and deposed Boleslaus, who spent the rest of his life as a penitent in the Benedictine abbey in Osiak.
Some historians, however, suggest that Stanislaus was involved in a land dispute and that he was guilty of plotting to dethrone the king.
Soon after his death Stanislaus was honoured as a martyr and in 1088 his relics were brought to Krakow’s Wawel cathedral where he is still honoured today. He was canonised at Assisi by Pope Innocent IV in 1253.