Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Saint Jadwiga of Poland, the only female king of the country, is known for her kindness and pietous life. Alhtough she left no notes that could prove visions that she is believed to have, there are couple of legends that withstood the time and led to beatification, and later canonisation, of this young reigness.
The first legend is connected with a large black crucifix that is hung till nowadays in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow. It is a place where St Jadwiga would pray for prosperity of her subjects. It is believed that during one of her prayers, the Christ on the cross had spoken to her. Under the very crucifix there are relics of St Jadwiga in north aisle of Krakow Cathedral and is commonly called ‘Saint Jadwiga’s cross’.
Jadwiga was known for her sympathy to simple, poor people. She would even smuggle food from the castle in her apron to give it to the poor. As her husband, King Vliadislav Jagiello, was informed about it he decided to check whether it was true. He was also afraid of the acts of a young queen, as the spies would suspect that she might have given information to rebels. At one night, when Jadwiga was about to leave the castle through the secret door, Jagiello waited for her hidden in bushes. A miracle hapopened while Jagiello was checking her apron. As carrying food to the subjects from outside the castle could have cost Jadwiga a death sentence, the food was changed into garland of roses. Till now she is very often depicted with roses.
According to another story, Jadwiga took part in a Corpus Christi procession during which coppersmith’s son got drowned by falling into the river. The King of Poland caused him regain the life by covering the boy’s body with a mantle.
However, the most popular legend telling about miracles of St Jadwiga is the one of ‘Jadwiga’s foot’. It is closely connected with building of Carmelite’s shrine in Krakow, that was founded by the Queen. As she supervised the works that were taken on the spot where the new church was built, Jadwiga noticed that one of stonemasons is very sad. When she asked about the reason of his sadness, he told her a story of his sick wife and children whom he needed to leave without care because of work. Jadwiga pitied him so much that she laid her foot on one of the stones and took out the clasp from her shoe (that was covered with jewels) and gave it to the stoneman. The stonemason could not believe in his own happiness. When Jadwiga left he noticed a small female footprint on a stone. The builders catowledged this fact as a miracle and decided to incorporate the stone into the wall of a newly built church.
Those and similar proves of Jadwiga’s kindness and piety made John Paul II canonize her in 1997. One can visit her relics in Wawel Cathedral in Krakow, her wooden orb and scepter with which she was buried and 20th century sarcophagus sculpted in white marble.