Saint John Paul II declared only one “Doctor of the Church” during his twenty-six year pontificate. He canonized a total of 480 men and women and yet he only held up one saint as a prime example of holiness and teaching. That saint was not an accomplished academic or high-ranking ecclesiastic. Instead, it was the “Little Flower,” Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
When living outside of Poland, we do not always get the opportunity to celebrate the great feast days of the Polish calendar. For example, Saint Faustina, a saint honored by more than just Poles, is honored in Poland on October 5th. However, we do not get to celebrate her feast day in the States in the typical parish church.
Often this makes it very easy to forget the feast day of a Polish saint. That is why I have started to create monthly Polish calendars (see below). October is especially dear to the Polish people as there are many “big” saints celebrated this month. Saint John Paul II certainly receives a lot of attention, but there are several other saints who are revered in Poland.
Feel free to download this calendar, make it your desktop background, or even print it and put it on your fridge. Be sure to sign-up via e-mail to receive future calendars as I make them available.
If you have any corrections or Polish saints that I should have on it, please be sure to make a comment or send me an e-mail.
This Sunday (Sept. 28th) we celebrate the feast day of Saint Wenceslaus, Duke of Bohemia. Even though Wenceslaus was a nobleman of a neighboring kingdom, he has still been considered one of the several patron saints of Poland for many centuries. In fact, the veneration of Saint Wenceslaus in Poland is most likely due to the close proximity of Bohemia. His cult grew quickly in southern Poland and is most evident in one of the most important cathedrals in all of Poland.
Saint Wenceslaus (Wacław) is co-patron of the Wawel Cathredal, alongside Saint Stanislaus, who is buried in the cathedral. The full title of the Kraków cathedral (where St. John Paul II was ordained a priest, said his first Mass and consecrated a bishop) is The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislaus and Wenceslaus on the Wawel Hill (królewska bazylika archikatedralna śś. Stanisława i Wacława na Wawelu). It has also been the site of numerous coronations of Polish kings (hence the elaborate name).
St. John Paul II, as Archbishop of Kraków, remarked during a homily that the two patrons of the cathedral embraced the entire Slavic people:
From August to October farmers across Poland (and elsewhere) are busily reaping the fruits of their labor. For any farmer harvest time is a hectic time of the year, but it is also the most rewarding. It is a time when they are able to see the results of their long days on the farm and when they are able to provide food (and money) for their family.
But what is the secret to their success year after year?
Giving credit to Whom it is due.
“[A]t the end of the [Second Vatican] Council the Fathers addressed a greeting and an appeal to artists: ‘This world—they said—in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration!'” (John Paul II, Letter to Artists, 11, emphasis added)
Everyday we are bombarded by various media. The internet has flooded us with access to millions of videos, news articles and Facebook comments–all available at the touch of a finger on our smart phone. Unfortunately while this technology has opened up doors and has connected people throughout the world, it has also allowed a wide variety of negative media to get the majority of our attention.