| By Candace Bryant-Lester

St. Casimir of Poland

(1460-84) | Feast: March 4

Patron Saint of Poland and Lithuania

Although this saint was born into nobility, he dedicated his life to the King above all kings.

Casimir Jagiellon was the third of 13 children born to King Casimir IV and Queen Elizabeth of Austria. Alongside his brothers, he was educated by the Polish priest, Father Jan Dlugosz, who influenced the young Casimir to embrace a life of faith and devotion to God.

He was rebellious in many ways, shunning the luxuries a life of royalty afforded him and instead wearing plain clothes and often sleeping on the floor by choice. He refused to marry, choosing to lead a celibate life focused on serving God and the poor.

He came down with tuberculosis at the age of 24, and died as he was traveling to Lithuania on March 4, 1484. He was buried with the lyrics to his favorite Marian hymn, Omni die dic Mariae (“Daily, Daily Sing to Mary”), and was canonized by Pope Adrian VI in 1522.

In 1984, on the 500th anniversary of his death, St. John Paul II addressed Lithuanian pilgrims honoring Casimir, saying, “the Church proclaimed Casimir a saint and placed him before us not only to be venerated but also that we might imitate his heroic virtues and follow his example of holiness … His witness of great faith and fervent piety continues to have special meaning for us today.” He is often depicted with an additional right hand, based on the painting of St. Casimir in Vilnius Cathedral in Lithuania, to represent his great generosity. According to legend, the painter tried to redraw the hand in a different place and painted over the old one, but it miraculously reappeared.