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Ladislas of Gielniów, Blessed

Category: Religious


Blessed Ladislas of Gielniów - (Wladyslaw z Gielniowa c. 1440 - 4 May 1505) was a Polish Roman Catholic priest, preacher, missionary and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor. He was an observant of the Rule of Saint Francis of Assisi and served his order in various capacities that included both a doorkeeper and as its provincial. He also travelled across Poland to evangelize to the faithful:

Fabio Arduino - Santi e Beati
An ardent and eloquent preacher, Ladislao was always much sought after and appreciated by the people.

He is the author of several ‘homilies’ mentioned in the  “Martyrologium Romanum ", as well as a number of hymns intended for singing in Vespers.

Pope Benedict XIV beatified him on 11 February 1750.  He has since become the patron of various places such as Warsaw (1962) and Galicia.

He had a reputation of being something of an ascetic – “Ladislas was well known for his constant spirit of penance in which he often fasted and wore a hair net [sic]”.   And…

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM
As a young man he strove so earnestly for perfection that the highest hopes were placed in him. He observed all the austerities of the order most faithfully, and regarded interior mortification as the goal of all exterior practices of penance. His profound humility and perfect obedience greatly edified all.

He is on the site principally, however, because he levitated when in a trance.  The trance state may have been brought on by his ascetic practices, he was not a well man when he died.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM

On Good Friday Blessed Ladislas of Gielniow preached a sermon on the sufferings of Our Lord. All at once his countenance was transfigured. He fell into ecstasy and was raised in the air above the pulpit before the eyes of the astonished multitude. When the ecstasy ended, he was siezed with a fever, and about a month later, on May 4, 1505, he went to his reward.

Preaching and missionary work

Ladislas organised and himself attempted a great deal of missionary work.  After he was ordained to the priesthood, for example, he received permission to go among the Kalmuks in Russia to preach the message of the Gospel; “he met obstacles and was forced to return home with limited success”.

But later he carefully selected the most suitable friars to send to Lithuania for the evangelization of that country. This initiative succeeded in reconciling many schismatics with the Church and “also obtained the conversion of numerous pagans”, so much so that Ladislao gained the title of "Apostle of Lithuania".  Ladislas also travelled across Poland in an effort to “evangelize the faithful”.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM
In towns and villages Blessed Ladislas of Gielniow preached the word of God, and his zeal, coupled with a holy life, produced blessed results everywhere. He had a special way of presenting for the consideration of the faithful the suffering of Christ and the glories of the Mother of God. Above all he recommended the recitation of the Crown of the Seven Joys of our Blessed Lady.

Prayers halt an army

On 1498, an army of Tatars and Turks threatened to take over the country.  Ladislaw is said to have preached to the population to trust God.  When the invading army was suddenly halted and repelled by the appearance of floods and blizzards, when “The raging winter storm stopped the invaders and allowed the Poles to push them off “ Ladislaw was given credit.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM
In the year 1498 Poland was in great danger of being overwhelmed by an army of 70,000 Tartars, who were allies of the Turks. Blessed Ladislaus appealed to the frightened population, asking them to pray and believe in God. Prior to the enemies arrival the rivers overflowed, flooding the region. This was followed by freezing weather that turn the water to ice. Then came snow, and thousands of the enemy died. What remained were defeated in battle by Prince Stephen of Poland.


Blessed Ladislas was born at Gielniow, a town in the diocese of Gniezno, Poland, in 1440. He completed his parish schooling in 1462 and in 1464, entered the convent of Friars Minor at Warsaw, which had been quite recently founded by St John Capistrano.  He also studied in Kraków before entering the order.

He entered the Franciscan order in 1464 and upon his admission into the order he was made doorkeeper. He was chosen as the order's Provincial in 1487 (until 1490) and was elected again in 1496 (until 1499); he was elected on three other occasions.

He participated in the general chapters of the Franciscans at both Urbino in 1490 and in Milan in 1498.. From 1504 to his death he was the superior of a convent in his hometown.

from The Franciscan Book of Saints, edited by Marion Habig, OFM
Broken with age and the fatigues of an exhausting apostolate, he completed his last term as provincial. The fathers who attended the chapter did not wish to assign him a definite convent for his residence, but left it to him to choose one for himself. But the holy old man said:

“My fathers, so you wish that at the end of my life I should live according to my own will and fancy! Never before have I done that, and far be it from me ever to follow my own will. Dispose of me entirely according to your own good pleasure.”

He was then appointed guardian of the convent at Warsaw. There he had begun his religious life, there he was also to close it in the very next year.

On Good Friday in 1505 while he was reflecting he levitated into the air. When he returned to the ground he collapsed and was confined to his bed. He remained bed-ridden until his death on 4 May 1505 a few weeks later.




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