Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Feast day: March 4
Casimir grew up in a world where his life was not his own. As a
prince of Poland, the second son of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of
Austria, his life was scheduled to cement his father's authority and
increase Poland's power.
Born the third of thirteen children in 1461, Casimir was committed to
God from childhood. He realized from an early age that his life belonged
to someone else, but to a much higher King than his father. Despite
pressure, humiliation, and rejection, he stood by that loyalty through
his whole life.
It may be hard for us to imagine royal luxury as a pressure. But for
Casimir, the riches around him were temptations to forget his true
loyalties. Rebelling against the rich, fashionable clothes he was
expected to enjoy, he wore the plainest of clothes.
Rejecting even ordinary comforts, he slept little, spending his
nights in prayer. And when he did sleep, he lay on the floor not on a
royal bed. Even though he was a prince, many of those around him must
have laughed and joked at his choices. Yet, in the face of any pressure,
Casimir was always friendly and calm.
Though his father must have wondered about him, he must have seen and
admired Casimir's strength. He showed that he misunderstood this
strength when he sent Casimir as head of an army to take over the throne
of Hungary at the request of some nobles there. Casimir felt the whole
expedition was wrong but was convinced to go out of obedience to his
father. So when soldiers started deserting, he was only too glad to
listen to the advice of his officers and turn back home. His feelings
were confirmed when he discovered that Pope Sixtus IV had opposed the
move. His father, however, was furious at being deterred from his plans
and banished Casimir to a castle in Dobzki, hoping that imprisonment
would change Casimir's mind. Casimir's commitment to what he believed
was right only grew stronger in his exile and he refused to cooperate
with his father's plans any more despite the pressure to give in. He
even rejected a marriage alliance his father tried to form. He
participated in his true King's plans wholeheartedly by praying,
studying, and helping the poor.
He died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried
with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called "Omni die dic Mariae"
which we know as "Daily, Daily Sing to Mary." Because of his love for
the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn't write
it. Casimir is patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.