Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
In Middle Ages women would not get education nor the possibility to develop. It was easier for men to expose their virtues and prove to others that they are exceptional individuals. But still, there were women who amazed others with their kindness and pious life. They proved that no matter the circumstances one may lead their life the way they want to and still praise God, even if life situation and condition were not in favour. Below you will find the most notable women of Polish culture that became blessed or saint.
She was known at first as Hedwig of Andechs but in Poland she is described as Saint Hedwig of Silesia. She came from Bavarian family where she received good education (in a convent near Wurzburg where her sister was a superior). She was married to a Polish prince of Silesia (called Henry I the Bearded) at the age of 12. They had 7 children. They both lead very religious life. Hedwig funded many churches and monasteries. She also helped the poor through charity actions – like organizing ‘walk-around’ hospital. After 19 years of marriage, Hedwig and Henry gave vows of purity. After her husband’s death she stayed in a convent lead by her daughter. The legends say that she never wanted to differ from her subject therefore she would walk bare footed. She lived between 12th and 13th century.
She was a relation of Saint Jacek and came from Odrowaz family. At the age of 16 she joined the female order of Norbertines. She is very often depicted with the soul of Saint Jacek (above her) that entrances heaven – because according to the legend, when Jacek died, Bronislawa was the first one to know that. Blessed Bronislawa became very quickly the superior of the convent she lived in. During plague she would serve the poor and distribute the medicine among them. She would very often leave the convent to Sikornik hill where she would contemplate her love to God.
She was a daughter of Polish ruler, Leszek Bialy, and at the same time older sister of Boleslaw the Shy (who was husband to Saint Kinga). She lived in 13th century. At the very young age she appeared to be in the centre of politics. At the age of 6 she was promised to a Hungarian prince. When Salomea and Koloman married, she vowed virginity (with the approval of her husband). When Koloman died in 1240, she moved to her brother’s court. Then she settled among the Poor Clares. She died as a nun. She left her dowry to the convent.
This 13th century nun was previously a wife to a Polish ruler. She is especially associated with the salt mines in Bochnia and Wieliczka (as the legends say that finding the salt in those terrains was her dowry). The legend says that when she was leaving her homeland, her father gave her – as a dowry – one of the richest salt mines in Hungary. She threw her engagement ring into that salt mine. When she came to Poland with her newly married husband, she asked her servants to dig in the place that she pointed. When they found the first lump of salt, Kinga’s ring was there. She invited to Poland (specifically to Nowy Sacz) the order of Poor Clares.
Jadwiga of Poland
She was queen of Poland (in the country she is known as Hedwig of Angevin - from the name of Hungarian dynasty that she derived from). She was the only woman in Polish history that would be thought to be ‘king’ of Poland (she was even crowned with that title). A young girl, who came to Poland from Hungary (because of her Polish roots and connection to the royal Piast family) eventually gave a great input into Polish culture and especially development of Jagiellonian University. She was believed to talk to crucifix (that was placed in her private chapel in Krakow cathedral) about Polish issues. She shared her wealth with the poor. Even her testament instructed to sell most of her goods to fund the university – what helped the development of the eldest Polish school of higher education. She lived in 14th century.