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St Stanislaus (11th April)

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Detail of a fresco (ca. 1337) by Puccio Capanna of

Martyrdom of St Stanislaus

Cappella di San Stanislao, San Francesco, Assisi

An entry in the Roman Martyrology under 7th May (an older date for the feast of St Stanislaus) reads: “St Stanislaus, bishop of Cracow and martyr, who received the crown of martyrdom on the day following this”.

St Stanislaus (died 1079), Bishop of Cracow excommunicated King Boleslaus II.  The king responded by killing him with a sword as he celebrated Mass, an event that led Pope Gregory VII to impose an interdict on Poland.  (In the fresco above, King Boleslaus leans over the dead body as bystanders wave the severed limbs).

The Bishop of Cracow initiated preparations for the canonisation of St Stanislaus in the early 13th century.  The relics of of the saint were translated to the Cathedral of Cracow in 1245.  The example of St Stanislaus clearly appealed to Pope Innocent IV in the difficult political situation of the 1240s and 1250s.  He had already canonised two other men who had suffered exile at the hands of lay rulers:

  1. William Pinchon (died 1234, canonised 1247); and

  2. Edmund of Canterbury (died 1240, canonised 1247).

Innocent IV instigated a canonisation process for St Stanislaus in 1250, and duly canonised him at San Francesco, Assisi in 1253.  As described in the page on the lower churchAlexander IV granted indulgences in 1256 to those visiting San Francesco on the feast of St Stanislaus.  The bull mentioned an altar in San Francesco that was dedicated to San Stanislaus, which had been commissioned by the chapter of the Cathedral of Cracow.  This became the Cappella di San Stanislao in ca. 1300 (illustrated here).  The frescoes (ca. 1347) under the arch of the chapel depict:
  1. the martyrdom of St Stanislaus (illustrated above); and

  2. St Stanislaus raising a man from the dead.

The silver coffin (1670) of St Stanislaus, which is on the high altar of the Cathedral of Cracow, replaced an earlier coffin (1512) that was stolen in 1655. 

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