Rev. Alban Butler (171173). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
St. Ceslas, Confessor
[Of the Order of St. Dominic.] HE was of the house of the counts of Odrovans, and brother to St. Hyacinth, and lived near Cracow in Poland. Having devoted himself to God in an ecclesiastical state, he became eminent for piety, learning, and the innocence of his manners. He was first instituted to a canonry at Cracow, but afterwards promoted to be conservator of Sendomir. His riches he employed on the poor, leading himself a most abstemious penitential life. Happening to accompany his uncle Yvo Konski, chancellor of Poland, into Italy, he received at Rome, together with St. Hyacinth, the habit of St. Dominic from the hands of that holy founder in 1218. Returning into Germany and Poland he preached penance with wonderful fruit. In 1222 he founded at Prague a convent of one hundred and twenty-six friars, in which Andrew the bishop of Prague took the religious habit, having first, with the consent of Pope Honorious III., resigned his see. St. Ceslas built in the same city a nunnery of the same order, in which, soon after his death, queen Margaret, daughter of Leopold archduke of Austria, and widow of Henry king of the Romans, professed herself out of humility a lay-sister. The saint sent Adrian with twenty-six other friars of his order to preach the faith in Bosnia, where they all received the crown of martyrdom. St. Ceslas himself preached in Silesia, and resided long at Breslaw. He directed St. Hedwiges in the paths of Christian perfection, was endowed with the gifts of prophecy and miracle, and filled the northern kingdoms with many eminent servants of God.
In 1240 the Tartars, marching from Asia with an army of five hundred thousand men, fell like a torrent on the West, and spread universal desolation over Russia, Bulgaria, Sclavonia, Poland, and Hungary, to the borders of Germany. They slew Henry II., surnamed the Pious, duke of Silesia, in a great battle at Wolstadt in 1241, and marched against Breslaw his capital. The inhabitants burned or hid their most precious effects, and abandoning the city to the enemy, shut themselves up in the citadel. St. Ceslas bore them company to assist and comfort them, and never ceased with tears to implore the divine protection. God was pleased to hear his prayers. When the barbarians had made a breach, and were preparing to scale the walls, the saint coming from offering the divine mysteries appeared upon the walls, and at the same time a globe of fire fell from the heavens upon the camp of the infidels, which it filled with confusion and terror. In the mean time the Christians made a sally, and the numberless troops of the barbarians perceiving that heaven visibly fought against them, whilst many were perishing by the flame, betook themselves to flight, and abandoned their enterprise. Thus they who had overturned so many thrones, and trampled to the ground so many powerful armies, saw themselves tumbled down from their victories and pride by the prayer of one humble servant of God, who renewed on this occasion the miracles of Elias and Eliseus. The circumstances of this wonderful deliverance are authentically attested by ancient records, still preserved among the public archives of the city of Breslaw, and are related by Martin Cromer, bishop of Heilsberg or Warmia, in his history of Poland, Longinus, and other historians of the northern kingdoms. St. Ceslas died in July, the following year, 1242. His relics are preserved in a stately chapel at Breslaw. The immemorial veneration of his name was approved by Clement XI., in 1713. See Touron, Vie de St. Dominique, p. 622; Bzovius, t. 13; Longinus in Hist. Poloniæ. Matthias de Miacovia, in Chronicis Poloniæ, et Benedict XIV., de Canoniz. l. 2, c. 34, p. 264.