In Rome, St. Stanislaus Kostka, Confessor, a Polish novice in the Society of Jesus. He died young after a life of angelic innocence, and he was placed in the book of saints by Pope Benedict XIII. – Roman Martyrology for August 15
Stanislaus Kostka was a Polish youth studying in a Jesuit school in Vienna when he sought to join the Society of Jesus. He was rebuffed, so he walked all the way to Rome to seek support from the general of the Society. He got it and was enrolled in as a novice in 1667, but he died just a year later.
The saint is usually pictured as a very young man dressed as a Jesuit priest (black cassock and cape, white collar). Otherwise his iconography is somewhat fluid. Images often include a stalk of lilies, as at right, to symbolize his chastity, but not at all consistently. Similarly, he is often but not always pictured holding the Christ Child. A crucifix also appears intermittently.
The reason for the portraits with the Christ Child is a vision that the young man had once while he lay sick. The Virgin Mary came and brought him the Christ Child to hold. At that he was cured of his illness. The second picture at right is among the many that memorialize this story.1
But the most frequent subject of the narrative images concerns the young man's death. For reasons that vary from source to source, he was prevented from receiving viaticum a dying person's final reception of the Eucharist the at a time when he was sick enough to believe he was about to die. He prayed to St. Barbara, the patron saint of a good death, and she came to him with two angels who gave him the Eucharistic bread and wine (image).2
A few paintings show Stanislaus with an angel while en route to Rome (example). The angel's assistance is discussed in Zetel's (56-58) 1715 vita and presumably in other early sources.
Prepared in 2018 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.