Saint of the Day – 16 July – Blessed Ceslaus Odrowaz OP (c 1184– 1242) (Brother of St Hyacinth – Polish – Jacek) Priest and Friar of the Order of Preachers/Dominicans, Confessor, Spiritual Advisor, miracle-worker – born as Czesław Odrowaz in Kamień Śląski in Silesia, Poland and died in 1242 in Wroclaw, Poland of natural causes. Patronage – Wroclaw.
Born of the noble family of Odrowąż in the town of Kamień Śląski in Silesia, Poland, he is believed to have been Saint Hyacinth Odrowąż’s brother.
Having completed his philosophical studies in Prague, he went onto study theology and jurisprudence at the University of Bologna and possibly that of Paris. After being Ordained a Priest, in about 1218 he accompanied his uncle Ivo, Bishop of Cracow, to Rome. Hearing of the great sanctity of Saint Dominic, who had recently been attributed the miracle of resuscitating the nephew of Cardinal Stefano di Fossa Nova who had been killed in a fall from his horse, Ceslaus, together with St Hyacinth, sought admission into the Order of Friars Preachers.
In 1222, accompanied by a group of his fellow friars, he arrived in Cracow whence he soon set off for Prague. It was there that he set up the first Dominican Monastery. A few years later, Ceslaus was appointed Abbot of a Priory in the Polish city of Wrocław.
At the feet of the Statue of Blessed Ceslaus above, you will see a dog carrying a torch. The dog is the symbol of the Dominicans. It comes from a play on words in Latin: “Dominicanus” sounds like “Domini canis” – “dog of the Lord.” A traditional story is that when St Dominic’s mother was pregnant with him, she dreamed of a dog running around the whole world with a torch in its mouth. When her son became the Founder of an Order of Preachers – spreading the light of the Gospel throughout the world – this dream was looked on as prophetic. And so the symbol of a dog carrying a torch has become a symbol of the Dominican order.
A pious and generous man, Ceslaus became spiritual advisor to St Hedwig of Silesia. In those days, Poland was plagued by numerous attacks by the Tartars. In 1240 they laid siege to the city of Wrocław and the townspeople naturally turned to Ceslaus, who had made a name for himself as a holy man, for spiritual comfort and help. Ceslaus’ ardent prayers and outstanding moral courage miraculously averted the fall of the city.
Ceslaus remained in Wroclaw until his death in 1242.
He was raised to the altars by Pope Clement XI in 1713. In 1963, Pope Paul VI recognised Bl Ceslaus – next to St John the Baptist – as the main Patron Saint of City of Wrocław. In iconography, Bl Ceslaus is portrayed with a ball (or column) of fire above his head, which appeared during the siege of Wroclaw. The miracle horrified the invaders and made them run away and subsequently retreat.