Saint Stanislaus Papczynski, Pray for Us!

By Br. Stephen J., MIC

Every spring, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception pray a novena to St. Stanislaus Papczynski, beginning on May 9 and concluding on his feast day, May 18, which we celebrate as a solemnity. With this novena, we both renew our connection and devotion to our Father Founder and ask him to intercede for us.

A large part of this novena is the Litany of St. Stanislaus. As a Marian seminarian who has prayed this litany for a few years, I offer a "Marian's-eye view" on certain titles of St. Stanislaus from the litany. I do not pretend these ideas are original; rather, I consider them parts of my formation in a tradition that reaches back 350 years.

Propagator of the mystery of the Immaculate Conception
Saint Stanislaus (1631-1701) was characterized first and foremost by his devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception. Before he left the Piarist order, he tried more than once to request that the Immaculate Conception become a prominent part of their charism. Immediately upon leaving the Piarists, he vowed to found a new religious order named after the Immaculate Conception, and swore to defend that title even at the cost of his life. The current Marian constitutions, revised after the canonization of our Father Founder, say that the mystery of the Immaculate Conception is, in fact, the essence of our charism, and that the character and mission of the Congregation flow from this mystery.

Let us pray for all those who are consecrated to Mary, the Immaculate Conception, that through her intercession, they, too, may become "holy and without blemish" (Eph 5:27).

Adorer of the Most Blessed Sacrament
Saint Stanislaus was known for spending hours at a time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Whenever our Lord was exposed for public adoration in the chapel at Góra Kalwaria, St. Stanislaus always had at least two Marians present and vested in surplices. According to his constitutions, if someone reading during mealtimes mentioned the Holy Eucharist, one confrère was to go to the middle of the dining room, kneel, and kiss the ground. He was then to say, "May the Most Holy Sacrament be blessed," to which all the brothers present were to respond, "Amen."

In honor of St. Stanislaus' great devotion, let us pray for all adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, especially those who promote Eucharistic adoration at shrines, parishes, and chapels.

Willing to accept martyrdom for Christ and the faith
The basis for this title comes from a story of St. Stanislaus during his seminary studies, which occurred during the invasion known as the Swedish Deluge. While Stanislaus and another student were walking, a Swedish soldier appeared, brandishing a saber. The other student fled, but Stanislaus knelt down to accept martyrdom at the hands of the Protestant Swede. The soldier struck him on the neck three times with his saber, but Stanislaus was unharmed. The soldier, surprised at this, ran away.

Let us pray for all persecuted Catholics, especially those in danger of being martyred for the faith.

Tireless herald of the word of God
Saint Stanislaus was a zealous preacher, and passed on his apostolic spirit to the Marian Fathers. Although the canonical recognition of the Marians began with a hermitage in the Korabiew Forest, it was not long before he accepted a mission house in the pilgrimage town of New Jerusalem (now Góra Kalwaria). As a teacher of rhetoric in Warsaw, Stanislaus was known to give as many as five lectures every day — witnessing to his stamina as a speaker.

Let us pray for preachers and teachers of theology and language, that the Word of God may be their strength.

Servant of the Divine Mercy
One thing that made St. Stanislaus' preaching so effective was his consistent call to repentance and trust in the mercy of God. He would pray an Our Father and Hail Mary every morning and evening in honor of Divine Providence, and he trusted God completely in every uncertainty and every trial. When Bishop Stefan Wierzbowski was dying but before St. Stanislaus could visit him, he had given away all his possessions to various religious orders and charities. When St. Stanislaus arrived, the dying bishop declared, "To you I leave ... Divine Providence." God's Providence later would entrust the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception with the message of Divine Mercy through the miraculous journey of Fr. Joseph Jarzębowski, MIC. Fleeing Poland at the outbreak of World War II, Fr. Joseph and his contraband Divine Mercy handouts had to travel east across Communist Russia, Japan, and the Pacific Ocean, finally reaching the United States in 1942. The remarkable Divine Mercy apostolate was later confirmed by Pope St. John Paul II, who told the Marians at the General Chapter of 1993: "Be apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary."

Let us pray for all those who serve and promote the Divine Mercy message and devotion.

Defender of newly conceived life
Both of St. Stanislaus' miracles concerned marriage and the family. The first — for his beatification — was was the restoration to life of a child who had died in the womb, and the second — for his canonization — was the healing of a young woman engaged to be married, Saint Stanislaus has recently become very popular in the Philippines, where many married couples who were struggling to have a child have conceived after praying a novena to him.

Let us pray for such couples, and for a renewed culture of life in our country and throughout the world.

Companion to the dying on the battlefield
Saint Stanislaus prayed fervently for the souls in Purgatory, but he was also active in ministering to the dying, particularly soldiers and victims of pestilence. He has been named the patron saint of those in mortal danger. Both the threat of COVID-19 and the war between Russia and Ukraine have showed us how much we need St. Stanislaus' intercession.

While we fervently pray for an end to the war in Ukraine, let us also pray for the souls of departed soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Prudent director in matters of conscience
Saint Stanislaus was widely known in his own day as a pious and prudent director of souls. Even as a Piarist, he distinguished himself as a preacher and spiritual advisor. At one time, he was the confessor of King Jan Sobieski, the leader of the Polish army that defeated the Turks and lifted the siege of Vienna in 1683.

Let us pray for spiritual directors, confessors, and all those who, through spiritual formation and information, help others to shape their consciences in accord with Catholic teaching.

Master of prayer and the spiritual life
Saint Stanislaus was a man of prayer and meditation. He published a series of reflections on the Scriptural readings for every Sunday Mass of the liturgical year under the title Inspectio Cordis (in English, Examination of the Heart). Just this Easter, this work was published online as part of the compendium of our Father Founder's Selected Writings (available from padrimariani.org). The importance of contemplative prayer to apostolic fruitfulness is one of the many threads connecting St. Stanislaus to our Renovator, Bl. George Matulaitis, who followed Jean-Baptiste Chautard's teaching on the interior life as recorded in The Soul of the Apostolate.

Let us pray for those engaged in apostolic ministry, that they and their works may be sustained by a constant connection with God.

Saint Stanislaus Papcyznski, pray for us!

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