Pope Francis validates benediction of Polish-Lithuanian monk

Michał Giedroyć (R) spent most of his life in St Mark's chapel (L) in Kraków. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mach240390

Pope Francis validated Michał Giedroyć’s benediction and, as a result, allowed Catholics to revere the 15th-century Polish-Lithuanian man in places steeped with the history of his life.

Moreover, Michał Giedroyć’s name was entered into the Liturgical Calendar. The blessed Michał Giedroyć is from now on officially recognised as the patron of sacristans, meaning, people who look after the sacristy or vestry where vessels and liturgical robes are kept.

Michał Giedroyć was born in 1425 in Vilnius into a princely family, spent most of his life in St Mark’s monastery in Kraków and graduated from the Kraków Academy with a bachelor's degree in theology, yet, he never agreed to be ordained a priest but remained a humble monk.

Michał Giedroyć often prayed to the effigy of crucified Jesus Christ in the chapel of St Mark in Kraków. Allegedly, one day Jesus Christ spoke to him from the cross, saying “be patient until death and I shall grant you the crown of life.” He was also a thorough abstainer, usually eating salted bread, being a vegetarian and a rigorous practitioner of self-flagellation.

On his deathbed in 1485, Michał Giedroyć was already recognised and was worshipped as a saint. However, the official benediction path ended in failure. The benedictory endeavours were taken up by a Polish bishop and professor Wacław Świerzawski in the 20th century.

Bishop Świerzawski chanced to also be a priest at the very same St Mark’s chapel. In addition, he opened a liturgical institute in Kraków and named it after Michał Giedroyć.

During Michał Giedroyć’s life, Poland and Lithuania were united by a common ruler – king Władysław III Jagiełło.