Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saint Casimir

Carlo Dolci. Saint Casimir. post 1650. Florence.

Carlo Dolci was a baroque painter of exquisitely sweet and pious melancholy. He was a most exacting and careful colorist who excelled in sacred portraiture. He left Florence, perhaps only once, to paint a portrait in Innsbruck. Wealthy english came to sit for his brush. Here in the Casimir painting, he displays his gifts and interest.

Upon opening St. Casimir's casket, two interesting points were found, one his body was found to be incorrupt, and two he was found with a copy of Bernard of Clairvaux's poem (and song), Omni die dic Mariae (Daily, Daily Sing to Mary). Now, Casimir died a young man of tubercular consumption. This confluence of marian piety, pale piety, and personal asceticism appealed to Dolci and to generations of devout christians. This fit well a certain strain of holy card art for funerals, that was printed in Italy, and common in my childhood.

Casimir, *1458 †1484, was well educated and of remarkable attributes: chaste, austere, just, charming, modest, prudent and devout. Miracles were attributed to his intercession at his tomb in Vilna's cathedral of St Stanislaus. He was canonised in 1522.

He was part of the east central web of dynastic marriage and offspring. His father was Casimir IV Jagiellon, king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania, his mother was a Habsburg princess. An older brother became king of Bohemia and then Hungary. Three younger brothers became kings of Poland. Casimir was offered the kingship of Hungary, and eventually, declined. When as viceroy in Poland he ruled well.

Saint Casimir is well remembered and appreciated by both poles and lithuanians. In Cleveland, Ohio, the parish of his patronage is polish. The new bishop, Richie Lennon, evicted the poles from their church. They still meet as a parish weekly, never-the-less. Before this travesty, Lennon evicted the lithuanians from the very, nearby parish church of Saint George, and changed the name of the lithuanian parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH), in the Collinwood section of Cleveland, to a second Saint Casimir. For the first time, to-day, there was celebrated a mass specifically for Saint Casimir's Day at OLPH. It was a fine mass, with a beautiful choir. About an hundred people gathered.

Lennon created a second Casimir's not to honor the good multi-national saint, but to cause division amongst the nations, confusion to the outside world, and to 'stick it' to the poles of St. Casimir church and parish. Now, there is a St. Casimir in the St. Clair and Superior neighborhood, on Sowinski; and one in north Collinwood, on Neff Road, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church. At both parishes, Lennon evicted the foreign born priests, Father Jan Wachala and Father Gediminas Kijauskas, SJ. Despite the supposed rationale for parish reductions owing, in part, to insufficient clergy, both men are not welcome to stay in the diocese. Lennon does not have the power to deport them, but he can, and did, refuse them the exercise of their faculties. Lennon enjoys the heavy exercise of power, even, beyond his authority. He demonstrates this often.


  1. Lennon is a bigot.

  2. Will it be five or ten years down the road when people will be asking themselves: "How did we let this man from Boston do so much damage right before our eyes? Why did we stand idly by?

  3. I do not know Fr.Wachala, but Fr.Kijauskas will be 80 this summer. If Fr.Wachala is advanced in years, could it not be simply that it was time for one or both to retire, and Bishop Lennon asked them to do so? The current pastor of St.Casimir's on Neff Road is a relatively young (late 50's)Lithuanian priest--is this not a natural and normal fact of life--that when it comes time to retire, one does so; and a younger person takes on the position?

    In the case of Lithuanians the harsh reality is that there are not enough of them to support two parishes, as it used to be in the 50's and 60's. That's a fact. I suspect the same is true for other nationalities. As difficult as it may be to face reality--those are the facts.

    Lithuanians have a Lithuanian priest and a place to worship. Perhaps rather than railing at reality and expending energy hating the bishop, the nationalities would do well to spend their time and energy on filling up their remaining churches and making sure their children and grandchildren still care enough to attend and support them. Otherwise in a few years more cuts will be made, and it will be no one's fault but their own that they happened.