Spirituality for Today – May 2015 – Volume 19, Issue 10

Saint of the Month
St. Andrew Bobola

May 16

Andrew Bobola, a member of a noble Polish family, was drawn to the Jesuits. He studied at a Jesuit school in Vilna (Vilnius), Lithuania, and was ordained a priest at age 25. Three years later, he was assigned to St. Casimir's church, where he established a reputation as a dynamic preacher and teacher. He also organized visits to prisoners and the poor, and during two outbreaks of the deadly plague in the 1620s, he tended especially to the sick.

Later, he was name superior at Bobruisk, an area that was largely Russian Orthodox. Undaunted, Andrew built a church for Catholics. He felt hemmed in by his ties to one region, so after six years, he resigned his post in order to preach in the Lithuanian countryside. He would continue at this task for 21 years.

Meanwhile, invading Russians were determined to expel the Roman Church from their midst, and Andrew became their chief target. Prince Radzwill of Poland offered Andrew a refuge in the city of Pinsk, where the brave priest continued to encourage loyalty to Rome. Still, he was harassed, with even children pelting him with stones during his outdoor sermons.

Pinsk fell to the invaders in 1657, and during the massacre of Catholics and Jews that followed, Andrew was captured. He was beaten and then tied to a pair of horses and dragged to his tormentors' headquarters. There, he was badly tortured and then tossed, barely alive, onto a dung heap. He was finally killed by a sword. When his body was examined 275 years later, signs of his torture were still visible.

Lord our God,
Your Son gave Himself up to death
to bring Your scattered children to unity.
Grant us perseverance in Christ's work of reconciliation
for which St. Andrew Bobola died as a martyr.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Your Son Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever.


From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives