Today is the feast day of Saint Andrew Bobola. Ora pro nobis.
Saint Andrew was born of an old and illustrious Polish family, in the Palatinate of Sandomir, 1590. His family had always protected the Jesuits and shown itself very liberal towards them. God blessed both the family and the Jesuits in this future martyr, who would bring both of them great glory. He entered that Order in 1611.
After making his solemn vows, 2 June, 1630, he was made superior at Bobruisk, where he wrought wonders by his preaching and distinguished himself by his devotion during an epidemic of the plague.
Fr Bobola in 1636 resigned his post as Superior to preach for twenty-one years along all the roads of Lithuania, which he was evangelizing. Poland and Lithuania, its neighbor, were being ravaged in those days by the Cossacks, Russians and Tartars, and the Jesuits suffered much from these invaders, who did not like them and their religion. The people were enduring great misery; Father Andrew sustained their courage and helped to combat the invading religious errors.
Fr. Bobola’s success in converting schismatics drew upon him the rage of those in high authority, and the adherents of the Greek Pope decided to centralize their forces in Polesia.
A Catholic nobleman of this province offered the Jesuits a house at Pinsk, and here Father Bobola was stationed. The schismatics vainly endeavoured in every manner to hinder him in the exercise of his apostolic duties, extending their persecutions to attacks upon his person. On 16 May, 1657, he was seized by two Cossacks and severely beaten. Then tying him to their saddles, they dragged him to Janów where he was subjected to incredible tortures. After having been burned, half strangled, and partly flayed alive, he was released from suffering by a sabre stroke. He was buried by the Catholics at the Jesuit College at Pinsk.
Forty-five years later, by a miracle, God revealed the whereabouts of his forgotten tomb to the Jesuit Fathers, who had seen the continuing evils of war ruin many of their works. His tombstone, then buried underground, was found after the Saint appeared twice in vision to the Rector of the College, saying he wished to protect his brethren and the students, and indicating to him the location of his grave. His mutilated body was incorrupt, and a fine fragrance came from the open tomb. Saint Andrew was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1853, and canonized in April of 1938 by Pope Pius XI.
Father Bobola was declared Blessed by Pius IX in 1853, and his feast is kept by the Society of Jesus, 23 May.
Image: Andrzej Bobola (4)