St. Stanislaus Kostka was born in Rostkow Poland in 1550 and died in Rome on August 15th, 1568 at the age of eighteen. His family was a part of the Polish nobility, his father being a senator.
At a young age, Stanislaus was very devoted to his studies and to prayer. At age 14 he was sent along with his older brother Paul to study at the Jesuit College in Vienna. At 16 Stanislaus was struck with a serious illness. He was living in the residence of an unfriendly Protestant Burgher 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 him to die without receiving Holy Communion. His prayer was answered. One night, he saw this beautiful virgin-martyr, accompanied by two Angels, enter his room with the Blessed Sacrament. He was greatly consoled by this, and another vision that immediately followed. The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him and assured him that God wanted him to enter the Jesuit Society. Soon he felt better and was restored to complete health.
When his parents refused to allow him to enter religious life, and the local Jesuits were reluctant to receive him without parental consent, Stanislaus secretly ran away from Vienna on August 10, 1567, to find some other way. He escaped from school and walked nearly 700 miles from Vienna to Rome over a rugged and dangerous road where rocks, mountains and rivers made the journey particularly difficult. Once in Rome, he was accepted into the Jesuit order at the age of 17.
Stanislaus was unable to complete his training. Nine months into his novitiate he again became very ill. On the morning on the feast of the Assumption 1568, he told a priest that he saw Mary surrounded by angels. Shortly afterward, he died.
St. Stanislaus Kostka is considered to be the patron saint of youth, young students, and seminarians. He is also invoked for broken bones, heart palpitations and serious illness. He is sometimes depicted receiving Holy Communion from the hands of angels; sometimes receiving the Infant Jesus from the hands of the Virgin. His tomb is located in the church of San Andrea del Quirinale in Rome. A young Fr. Karol Wojtyła, later to become Pope John Paul II, would often stop to pray there during his doctoral studies in Rome.