SKARGA, PIOTR° (Piotr Powecki; 1536–1612), Polish Jesuit preacher and antisemite. Skarga was one of the leaders of the Uniate Church in Brest (*Brest-Litovsk), which recognized papal authority. He supported the candidacy of King Sigismund III Vasa (1587–1632) for the Polish throne and upon the latter's selection was appointed preacher in his court, a position which gave him great political influence. His opposition to any form of accommodation or compromise with Protestants was a factor in the abolition of laws of religious tolerance in 1606. His hatred of Jews found expression in his works Żywoty swiętych ("Lives of the Saints," 1579) and Kazania na niedzielę i Swięta ("Sermons for Sundays and Festivals," 1597). Both books attempted to prove that Jews made sacramental use of Christian blood. Skarga's venom and his closeness to the king were responsible for outbreaks against the Jews of Cracow more than once in the 1690s and encouraged the authorities to conduct *blood libel and *Host desecration trials. His hatred of Jews was particularly apparent in the plan of the Jesuits of Lemberg to seize the *Nachmanovich family synagogue and in litigations on this matter conducted in the presence of the king during the years 1603–08.
M. Balaban, Żydzi lwowsey na przełomie XVI i XVII wieku (1906), index; idem, Historja Żydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1 (1931), 165–86.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.