Sadoc is another of the early disciples of Saint Dominic about whom the scanty records make us long to know much more. The few references to him show that he was a native of Poland, a man of good parts, and a splendid, dependable character, which caused him to be loved, as well as admired, by his confrères. They also prove that he was greatly esteemed for his holiness of life. Apparently he studied in Bologna, and afterwards entered the Order there. In 1221, it will be recalled, Dominic associated him with Paul of Hungary as a colaborer in building up the new Hungarian province of Friars Preacher, and for the conversion of the Cumans.(1)

With Paul, his superior, Sadoc journeyed through northern Italy, Tyrol, and Upper Austria into Hungary. This was in 1221. He seems to have taken charge of the three candidates whom the missionaries gained through their sermons at Enns.(2) That he was a man of zeal and eloquence is evidenced by the fact that Saint Dominic selected him for so trying a mission. As is the case with not a few most efficient workers in every age, especially if they are quiet characters, the historians rarely, if ever, mention him personally. Still the preceding sketch of Paul of Hungary aff ords some idea of Sadoc's apostolic activity. The two men must have often labored hand in hand during the years they were together. A further idea may be gleaned from the outlines of the lives of Saint Hyacinth and Blessed Ceslas, for Sadoc's last toils were in Poland.

There are indications that, because of his exemplary life, rare piety, and good judgment, our blessed was often employed in the training of candidates for the Order and in the preparation of the younger brethren for the apostolic life. Yet there are no positive records to that effect. For some years he was prior of the convent at Agram, Hungary.(3) Similarly, as will be seen, the man of God ended his earthly career in such a position.

Just when Blessed Sadoe was called, or sent, from Hungary to Poland it would be impossible to say. However, in 1260 we find him prior of Saint James' Convent, Sandomir.(4) The traditions of his wise, kindly, and spiritual government of that community which have come down to us, and which are borne out by the conduct of its members in the catastrophe soon to be recounted, lead one to fancy that he had been superior there for some years before that sad event. During this time, we can but believe, he preached not merely in Sandomir itself; for his zeal must have taken him into many places of the kingdom, if not even throughout its length and breadth.

How the holy Friar Preacher escaped death, or fared at the hands of the Tartars, in the calamitous times when Paul of Hungary and so many of his confrères received the crown of martyrdom, and Hyacinth and Ceslas were saved only by miracles, possibly will never be known. Sadoe certainly passed through that awful epoch. But, in the end, he became a victim of the same merciless marauders. Late in 1259, or early in 1260, the Tartars again overran Russia in the same way as they did in 1240 and 1241. From Russia they swept into Poland, where they sacked and burned Lublin and other cities. Carnage and devastation marked their course everywhere.(5)

Finally, under their leaders, whom the Polish historian, Rev. Martin Kromer, calls "Nogaio" and "Celebuga," the barbarians laid siege to Sandomir, a strongly fortified city on the Vistula(6) Night and day they strove to take the place by storm, but in vain. Not only did Blessed Sadoe bravely remain with his people; he kept his community there also. Together with the students, novices, and lay brothers, there were forty-nine religious of his house thus shut up within the municipal walls. While the holy prior trusted in the goodness of God, he knew that his brethren would not hesitate to purchase the crown of heaven at the price of their lives. Possibly he also felt that their blood might, in the designs of providence, bring peace and quiet to Poland, as well as redound to the good of religion.(7)

Sadoc did not permit the turmoil of the time, or his labors among the distracted faithful, to interfere with the regular exercises of the community. It was while engaged in one of these that they received their warning. After that part of the divine office called matins, the novice appointed to read the martyrology, which notes the saints whose feasts fall on the next day, suddenly faltered and stood aghast. Then, with his voice scarcely under control, he read: "At Sandomir, the sufferings of forty-nine martyrs" (Sandomiriae, passio quadraginta novem martyrum). Quite naturally, everyone was stupefied at so strange and unexpected an announcement. The superior called for the book. There were the words written in letters of gold. They disappeared after the community bad seen them.(8)

Some writers tell us that our blessed then knew by inspiration what was to happen. Be this as it may, his keen religious instinct would have revealed to him the fate of himself and confrères. When the prayers were finished, although there seemed to be no danger of the strongly fortified town being taken by the enemy, he gave his colleagues a brief conference, in which he assured them that they were all to be martyrs, and urged them bravely to prepare for the glorious conflict. He felicitated them that their fortune was to be so happy. Needless to say that his words produced a profound impression.

This extraordinary occurrence was on the first day of June; the year 1260. Meanwhile, the Tartars resorted to fraud and imposture that they might gain possession of Sandomir, which they had failed to carry by storm. At their instigation, some Russian officers who had turned traitors to their own country and accepted places in the army of the enemy arranged a parley with the leaders of the Poles. These were persuaded that, if they visited the camp of "Nogaio" and "Celebuga," easy terms of peace could be made, that neither the city would be injured, nor the people molested, and that much suffering would be spared. Hardly had they reached the place where they thought the conference would be held, when the barbarians, now that its defenders were without commanders, rushed upon Sandomir, and took it by a vigorous assault.(9)

Never did unwise trust cost more dearly. The Tartars, innately brutal, were always known to be cruel in proportion to the resistance with which they met. On this occasion both their inhumanity and their villainy were consummate. The city was pillaged and destroyed. The streets ran with blood. When the fiends grew weary of butchering with the sword, they drove crowds of people to the banks of the Vistula, where they were drowned in the river.(10)

It is now time to return to Blessed Sadoc and his community. In expectation of their baptism of blood, they prepared for the ordeal, so repugnant to the instincts of nature, by confession, prayers, communion, and thousands of acts of love. Under the noble example of their superior, they offered their lives to God as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. With the same regularity as before the choral exercises were carried out the two days and a night that intervened between the supernatural admonition and the martyrdom. On the evening of June 2, 1260, compline was sung as usual. After this, the forty-nine Friars Preacher, in accordance with the custom of their Order, marched out of the choir in procession and down the main aisle of the church, singing the Salve Regina. (11)

Possibly an expectation of rich booty combined with their hatred of Christianity to cause the Tartars generally to begin their work of devastation, after a city had fallen into their hands, by pillaging the Catholic churches. At any rate, these sacred edifices were ever among the first structures visited and despoiled by them. So it happened in Sandomir. Blessed Sadoc and his community had just reached their places in Saint James', when the barbarians rushed upon them.(12) In a moment the forty-nine lay dead in the main aisle. Of the martyrs sixteen were priests; three deacons; four subdeacons; eight or nine in minor orders; nine or ten professed students; five still in their noviceship; and three lay brothers.(13)

Because of his zeal, virtue, and model life, Blessed Sadoc had been held in veneration wherever he labored. After death, the devotion towards him not only grew, but was also extended to his companions in martyrdom, whom he guided to a port of spiritual safety in a time of danger. Blessed John Prandota, bishop of Cracow, and Boleslaw V, king of Poland, and called "the Chaste," sent representatives to Rome that they might lay the case of these athletes of Christ before Alexander IV, as well as make known to him what the Catholics had suffered at the bands of the Tartars; for many of them had certainly died in the cause of their religion. The Holy Father, to show his sympathy and still further to quicken the faith of the people, accorded to all who visit the church of Sandomir on June 2 the same indulgences that can be gained by an attendance at Saint Mary of the Martyrs, Rome.(14)

It is worthy of note that the fact that Sadoc and his companions went to death, while engaged in the chant of the Salve Regina, gave rise to the custom in their Order of softly singing the same prayer to the Blessed Virgin at the bedside of its members in their last moments. Marvellous things have been recorded in connection with the glorious triumph of these Friars Preacher. For instance, our Lady, whose honor they died praising under the title of "Mother of Mercy," is said to have been seen to open the gates of heaven for them. Persons worthy of credence declared that they often saw the exterior of the church in which they died illuminated by forty-nine brilliant stars. Others bore witness to the same number of beautiful candles around the altar erected in honor of the martyrs, which had been lit and placed there by no human hands. Out of veneration, a large picture was painted over this altar, in which they are portrayed on their knees under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin, and holding lighted candles in token of their victory.(15)

This devotion for our athletes of the faith has continued down through the course of ages. It is especially strong in Poland and Sandomir. Pius VII not only took official recognizance of this fact, but also granted the Order to which they belonged permission to recite the divine office and say mass in their honor on June 2, the day of their martyrdom.


1. Father Touron has one article for Paul of Hungary and Blessed Sadoc, and so has no special general references for his sketch of the latter. However, the following may be given: Acta Sanctorum, XXI (first vol. for June), 358 ff; Année Dominicaine, VI (June 2), 45 ff; BZOVIUS (Bzowski), XIII, col. 689-690; FRACHET, de, Vitae Fratrum (Reichert ed.), p. 305; MAMACHI, 644-645; MARCHESE, III, 363 ff; MORTIER, op. cit., I, 135 and passim; PIO, col. 61-62. (Ed. note).

2. See de Frachet, as above, and the sketch of Paul of Hungary.

3. DE FRACHET, as in note 1.

4. The Dominicans had two houses in Sandomir -- Saint Mary Magdalen's, and Saint James'. Father Touron places the martyrdom at Saint Mary Magdalen's. We follow Father Mortier in saying Saint James', for he had the advantage of later historical research. (Ed. note).

5. Some writers place Blessed Sadoc's death in 1241, or the same year as that of Paul of Hungary, which is not altogether unnatural, as they had labored together. At the end of his sketch, Father Touron speaks of this, and shows his disinclination to go against these. Yet he clearly indicates his belief that it was in 1260. We have taken this latter year all through our sketch, for it is that given by later authors, who had the advantage of fuller historical research. (Ed. note).

6. Acta Sanctorum, XXI, 359.

7. There were likely other fathers of the house who were engaged in missionary work, when the Tartars surrounded Sandomir, and were thus not included in the massacre. (Ed. note).

8. BZOVIUS, XIII, 689.

9. Acta Sanctorum, XXI, 358.

10 Ibid. Kromer, whom the Acta quotes, feels quite certain that this took place in 1260; but the authority of Dlugosz, who assigns it to 1259, causes him to waver. The later authorities give 126O. (Ed. note).

11. For the different opinions about the year of Sadoc's death see note 5. All agree in placing it on June 2, whatever the year. (Ed. note).

12. See note 4 about the two convents in Sandomir. For the reason assigned there, we follow Father Mortier in giving the name of this church as Saint James, instead of Touron, who says Saint Mary Magdalen's. We found no reference to the fathers of the other house in Sandomir at this time. Possibly, because of the size of the city, the need of laborers, or other cause, it was closed after the earlier irruption of the Tartars. (Ed. note).

13. The Année Dominicaine (VI, 47-48) gives their religious names as follows: (the priests) Sadoc, Paul, Malachy, Andrew, Peter, James, Abel, Simon, Clement, Barnabas, Elias, Bartholomew, Luke, Matthew, John, and Philip. The deacons were Joachim, Joseph, and Stephen; the subdeacons Thaddeus, Moses, Abraham, and Basil; those in minor orders David, Aaron, Benedict, Onuphrius, Dominic, Michael, Mathias, Timothy, and probably Maurus; the professed students possibly the Maurus just mentioned, Gordian, Felician, Mark, John, Gervasius, Christopher, Donatus, Medard, and Valentine; those still in their novitiate Daniel, Tobias, Macarius, Raphael, and Isais; the lay brothers Cyril, Jeremiah, and Thomas. (Ed. note).

14. BZOVIUS, col. 690; MATHIAS of Miechow, Historia Poloniae Book 3, Chap. XLIV.

15. Année Dominicaine, VI, 48.