On June 8, 2019, in Krakow, Poland, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, celebrated the Holy Mass for the equivalent beatification of Michał Giedroyć (c. 1422-1485), Lithuanian, professed layperson of the Order of Saint Augustine, widely venerated for centuries in Lithuania and Poland and declared blessed by the Holy Father Francis on November 7, 2019. During the Eucharistic celebration, the cardinal pronounced a homily, ample extracts from which are published below:
Homily of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu
“Blessed Michał… is part of that long line of disciples of Christ who, like a red thread, runs through the history of the Church: God’s preference for the simple and the weak.
The Lord granted him the gift of knowledge of the mysteries of His Kingdom, in which our Blessed lived and which he guarded, becoming a convinced witness through his life. Although he came from a noble family, Michał was sacristan in the religious community entrusted to him. He kept order in the church of San Marcos, praised the Lord without interruption, carried out with docility the work he was asked to do, bravely bearing arrogance and contrariness. He led a simple and poor life. Although due to his origin he could have received the sacred orders, he chose to remain “small” as a lay brother, surrounded by the wall of the monastery, remaining united with the crucified Christ and the Blessed Virgin. And God, looking at the meekness of his heart, granted him while he was alive the gift of performing miracles and prophecies. He employed the talents he received to the benefit of others. His ways of practicing love of neighbor today are more relevant than ever: listening to the other, welcoming those who knock at the door, giving alms to the poor and comforting the afflicted.
God saves the world starting from here. Our Blessed walked the path of the first disciples of Jesus: they, simple and modest individuals, were chosen by the divine Master as apostles of the Kingdom. To them, He not only revealed His mystery but also entrusted it to them so that they could manifest it to the world. Michał was a “little one” in accordance with the spirit of the Gospel. I was not looking for anything other than God Himself. The mystery of his existence lies precisely in God’s primacy: he entrusted everything to Him and was grateful to Him for everything. He did not worry about things considered great by the world, but rather directed his attention to what is most important, namely, the love of God and friendship with others.
To us today, who are overwhelmed by a thousand apparently important things, Blessed Michał teaches that the authentic greatness of people does not come from how much, but from how something is achieved. It is zeal and love that make our actions and tasks great, even the simplest ones. His testimony of life, characterized by the acceptance of his own physical limits and the union of his own suffering with that of the crucified Christ, today is good news for all those who, like him, are often relegated to the margins of society due to their physical inefficiency, advanced age or other limits. It is good news for all those who are afflicted by the negative experiences of life: who are unhappy, disappointed, discarded, who have lost the sense of their value. To them he indicates, with his own example of life, the source of true happiness, that is, trust in God and deep faith in Him, which helps one to accept daily crosses.
Our celebration of thanksgiving, even if it takes place in this royal city of Krakow, offers me a special opportunity to express feelings of gratitude to the Church in Lithuania, of which Blessed Michał Giedroyć is a faithful and illustrious son. He was born not far from Vilnius around the year 1420, just a few decades after the baptism of his native land. There he spent almost forty years of his life, before arriving in Krakow. He was a beautiful flower, one of the first, of the young Lithuanian Church, becoming a precious gift for the Polish land. The recent confirmation of worship, enjoyed since ancient times, is a great encouragement for the Church, here in Poland, and the Church in Lithuania, to continue walking together. His holiness, officially recognized and confirmed by the Church, constitutes a spiritual seal and a divine blessing for this particular bond.
I wish to emphasize again that this particular bond of faith and mutual collaboration between Poland and Lithuania is reinforced by the fact that today’s celebration … happily coincides with the memory of another saint who accompanies the two peoples: Saint Jadwiga, Queen of Poland and Grand Duchess of Lithuania. In fact, today is the liturgical memory of that saint and the 22nd anniversary of her canonization by Saint John Paul II here in Krakow.
The mysterious fantasy of Divine Providence, through Blessed Michał and Saint Jadwiga, invites Poles and Lithuanians to renew, deepen and strengthen historical bonds, reinforced by faith in Him, He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. This is the message that Blessed Michael Giedroyc and Saint Jadwiga give us today: the greatness of the saints is also in their ability to overcome the narrow limits of nations and become “all in all” as Saint Paul said of himself.