Today, November 13, is the feast of the Polish Jesuit saint, Stanislaus Kostka. Born to noble parents in the 16th century, Stanislaus and his brother Paul were sent to the Jesuit college in Vienna for their education.
Devout from a young age, Stanislaus was often teased by his older brother Paul because of his piety. However, this did not dissuade Stanislaus from discerning a vocation to the Society of Jesus. The teenage Stanislaus attempted to enter the Society in Vienna but the Jesuits there would only allow him to enter with the permission of his parents. Sons of noble families had recently entered the Society without their parents knowledge which in turn caused those parents (who would have wanted male heirs) to lash out at the Jesuits. Stanislaus knew that his parents would not consent to this but was not deterred. He decided to seek out the German provincial of the Society to see if he would let him enter.
After traveling more than 400 miles by foot, Stanislaus arrived in the German town of Dillingen. There he was able to meet with the provincial who would one day become a saint, Fr. Peter Canisius. Canisius saw that Stanislaus was genuine in his desire to join the Society. Canisius wrote a letter for recommendation for the young Stanislaus and instructed him to meet with the Superior General of the Society, another future saint, Fr. Francis Borgia. The General approved his wishes and Stanislaus was allowed to enter the Jesuit novitiate.
Unfortunately, on August 15, 1568, at age 17, Stanislaus died suddenly. Stanislaus’ death came before he was able to become a priest or even profess his first vows as a Jesuit. While he was only in the Society for 10 months as a novice, he is remembered for his holiness and unwavering pursuit of life as a Jesuit. Today, he is the patron saint of Jesuit novices.