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St. Simon of Lipnica (1438/40 - 1482)

Master of words. His sermons drew crowds. He was a zealous friar who lived in asceticism and mortification. He was obedient to God until the very end. He served the sick in Krakow, which was overcome by epidemic, sharing in their miseries, trying to relieve their suffering. Eventually, disease struck and put an end to the life of the humble preacher.

He was born in Lipnica to Anna and Gregory, a baker. We do not know much about his childhood, but the fact that his tuition at the Krakow Academy cost barely one grosz testifies to the fact that he came from a poor home. In 1454, he began studying at the Artium Faculty at the Krakow University Extension. A year earlier, St. Jan Capistrano founded Poland's first convent of Friars Minor of St. Francis of Assisi at Wawel: the Bernardines – named after the church of St. Barnardine of Siena. An encounter with the charismatic religious and certainly with his disciples, many of whom were among students and professors in Krakow, was probably a turning point in Simon’s life. He decided to join the Order.

In 1460, Simon became superior of the monastery in Tarnów, and when he returned to Wawel, he was elected preacher of the cathedral. He captivated the intellectual elite of Krakow. However, this did not protect him from charges filed by the cathedral chapter in Krakow, which accused him of abusing the name of Jesus. Meanwhile, Simon was inspired by Italian preachers who would interrupt their speeches to exclaim, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" and the audience would respond with the same. He managed to defend himself against the charges and was released. Simon’s tremendous devotion to the name of Jesus was preserved by Józef Mehoffer in a stained glass window in the Bernardine church near Wawel. In it, the saintly preacher is shouting: Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

He led a very strict life. In the Bernardine garden that has survived to this day was once a garbage pit full of waste. The brothers would see Simon, who would often spend the night in it. He lived in hiding. He would go out into the world only to preach and to hear confessions.

In 1476, Simon was elected to the board of the Krakow convent as a representative to the General Chapter of the Order of Friars Minor, which met in Pavia in 1478. After the meeting, he visited Rome and later peregrinated to the Holy Land. After returning home, he remained a commissioner of the Province. He fulfilled this function while visiting the monasteries of the Bernardines, including the monastery at St. Anne’s Church in Warsaw, where he subjected the local novices to trials, such as ordering them to plant trees root-side-up and to walk barefoot upon hot coals. What we find absurd and illogical had profound meaning in the mind of the medieval man. It was about complete trust in God, even contrary to the arguments of common sense.

The plague epidemic broke out in Krakow in 1482. Simon and his 25 confreres suffered from the disease. The religious contracted it while searching for and trying to help those who had fallen ill in their homes. He died on 18 July 1482. He was laid to rest under the great altar in the monastery church on the same day, a few hours after his death,.

In 1685, the modest Friar Minor was declared blessed. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on 3 ​​May 2007.


The places associated with St. Simon of Lipnica (1438/40 - 1482):

Bernardine Monastery
Bernardine Monastery, ul. Bernardyńska 2 (Chapel of Saint Simon of Lipnica), Krakow Site of the year-long novitiate of Simon of Lipnica. The friar began preparing for the priesthood and studying theology in the monastery. There he received ho... (read more)