Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, we make a commemoration of Blessed Ceslaus, Confessor, of the Order of Preachers. Since today is a ferial day, the ferial office is prayed according to the rubrics, and a commemoration is made of Bl. Ceslaus at Lauds only.
From “Short Lives of the Dominican Saints” (London, Kegan Paul, Trench, and Trübner & Co., Ltd., 1901):Blessed Ceslaus, the near kinsman and probably the brother of another great glory of our Order, St. Hyacinth, belonged to the noble Polish family of the Odrowatz, and was born in the castle of his ancestors, not far from Breslau, in Silesia. His baptismal name, which signifies in his native tongue honour and glory, was a presage of his future greatness, and he early gave signs of the holiness which he was afterwards to attain. The frankness and amiability of his character and the spotless purity of his life gave him a singular influence for good over his companions. The early education of Ceslas and Hyacinth was carried on under the superintendence of their uncle, Yvo Odrowatz, who afterwards became Bishop of Cracow; and so distinguished were the two young saints for piety and diligence that people used to call them "the two sages." Later on, Ceslas was sent to Italy to complete his studies and take his degree in theology and jurisprudence, which he did with much success. On his return to Poland, he embraced the ecclesiastical state, as his brother had already done, and was soon made Canon of the Cathedral of Cracow and raised to other posts of dignity and trust. He employed his ample revenues in relieving the poor and his influence in redressing grievances and in supporting the cause of the weak and the oppressed.
Blessed Ceslas was pre-eminently a man of prayer; he devoted to this holy exercise many hours of the day and prolonged his vigils far into the night; he led a most penitential life, afflicting his body by continual fasts, disciplines, and other austerities, and taking his scanty rest on the bare ground, with a stone or a log of wood for his pillow. God was pleased to confirm his preaching by the gift of miracles. Coming once to the banks of the Oder, he found the river so swollen and stormy that the ferrymen absolutely refused to carry him across. Like his brother Saint Hyacinth under similar circumstances, Blessed Ceslas betook himself to prayer; then he stretched his mantle on the raging waters, and, making the sign of the cross, embarked upon it, and in a few minutes safely reached the opposite bank, his clothes, and even his mantle, remaining perfectly dry. He cured great numbers who were sick of various diseases and raised four dead persons to life. The most remarkable of these miracles was that which he worked on a boy, the only son of his mother, whom he raised from the dead after he had been eight days drowned.
Tomb of Bl. Ceslaus, Dominican church of
St. Wojciech (Adalbertus) in Wroclaw, Poland.
When the savage Tartars besieged Breslau about A.D. 1241, the terrified inhabitants took refuge in the fortress, and Blessed Ceslas and his Community fasted and prayed incessantly, in the hope of averting the anger of God from the city. One day when the enemy was attacking the walls, the servant of God came upon the ramparts, crucifix in hand, exhorting the besieged to put their trust in God. Suddenly he was seen to be encompassed with light, and over his head appeared an immense globe of fire, whence issued burning darts which fell upon the enemy, killing some and blinding others. The panic-struck Tartars threw down their arms and fled in wild confusion; some of them were converted by the prodigy and received baptism together with their prince.
A few months after this miraculous event, Blessed Ceslas was seized with his last illness. After making a touching exhortation to his Brethren, in which he reminded them that all monastic observances are of no value unless based on humility and self-renunciation, he clasped his crucifix and fervently exclaimed: "Lord, Thou hast been the sole object of my desires; deign in return to admit me to Thy Divine embraces." The glorious Mother of God, whom he had tenderly loved, solaced him in his last moments and conducted him to the joys of heaven on the 16th of July, A.D. 1242.
That same night he appeared, in company with the holy Apostles, to a Dominican nun, and told her, that, in reward of his labors in preaching the gospel, he had been numbered in their ranks. Many prodigies were worked at his tomb, whence issued a miraculous dust which healed many diseases, specially headaches and fevers. Blessed Ceslas was beatified by Clement XI.
O God, you endowed the blessed Ceslaus with virginal purity of life and burning zeal for the salvation of souls, and made him wonderful to the people of different nations for his holy actions and the grace of propagating the faith; grant, we beseech you that through his intercession we may always be steadfast in faith, and come to you, who alone are the author and giver of eternal salvation. Through Our Lord...