Stanislaus Kostka was born in Rostkow, Poland in 1550, of a noble Polish family. At the age of 14 he was sent with his older brother Paul to study at the Jesuit College in Vienna. There he fell ill. He was lodged in the residence of an unfriendly Protestant who would not permit the Blessed Sacrament to be brought to him. Stanislaus remembered having read that those who invoked Saint Barbara never died without the Sacraments, and he begged that she would assist him in his danger and not permit that he die without the Viaticum. His prayer was answered; one night, when his life was despaired of, he saw this beautiful virgin-martyr, accompanied by two Angels, enter his room with the Blessed Sacrament. He was greatly consoled by this favor and another which immediately followed it; the Blessed Virgin also appeared and assured him that God wanted him to enter the Jesuit Society. Soon he felt better and was restored to complete health.
He was too young though to enter the Order in Vienna without his parents’ permission; he therefore determined to go to another province where it might be possible. Stanislaus had always been gentle and cheerful, and his sanctity was felt as a reproach by his brother Paul, who had been surveying him constantly and often spoke rudely to him, even going so far as to strike him. Stanislaus nonetheless succeeded in evading him when he left for Augsburg, dressed as a beggar, to go to Father Peter Canisius, Provincial of Upper Germany. His brother, when he realized he had left against his father’s will, pursued him, but even though Stanislaus was on foot, passed him by without recognizing him. A little farther on, Paul’s horses refused to advance and he was obliged to return to Vienna.
Saint Peter Canisius sent Stanislaus to Rome, a very long distance in those days, over a rugged and dangerous road, where rocks, mountains and rivers made the journey very difficult. Saint Francis of Borgia received him in Rome as a treasure sent by God, and he was clothed in the Jesuit habit in October 1567. His father was very irritated, but the son answered his letters with modesty and firmness, and continued to apply himself to every practice that might lead him closer to God and religious perfection. In ten months it is said that he advanced more than many do over a period of fifty or sixty years.
The fervent novice ardently desired to be in heaven on the feast of Assumption; he fell ill of a fever on the 9th of August, and it was revealed to him that his desire would be fulfilled. In effect, his holy soul departed to rejoin His Heavenly Mother, when She came to claim him at a little after 3 o’clock on the morning of the 15th of August, 1568. He was 18 years old. We often see him with the Infant Jesus in his arms, also in our church right behind the pulpit. It is so because when Our Lady came to cure him in Vienna with Her Divine Treasure in Her arms, She had placed the Infant Savior on his bed.