July 24 – Chaste Queen

July 22, 2013

Saint Kinga of Poland

Painting of St. Kinga by Grzegorz Czarnic

Painting of St. Kinga by Grzegorz Czarnic

(also known as Cunegunda, Kunigunda, Kunegunda, Cunegundes, Kioga, Zinga; Polish: Święta Kinga, Hungarian: Szent Kinga)

Poor Clare and patroness of Poland and Lithuania; born in 1224; died 24 July, 1292, at Sandeck, Poland.

She was the daughter of King Bela IV and niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and from her infancy it pleased God to give tokens of the eminent sanctity to which she was later to attain. With extreme reluctance she consented to her marriage with Boleslaus II, Duke of Cracow and Sandomir, who afterwards became King of Poland (Bolesław V the Chaste). Not long after their marriage, the pious couple made a vow of perpetual chastity in the presence of the Bishop of Cracow; and Cunegundes, amidst the splendour and pomp of the royal household, gave herself up to the practice of the severest austerities. She often visited the poor and the sick in the hospitals, and cared even for the lepers with a charity scarcely less than heroic.

Painting by Florian Cynk of the Miner presenting the engament ring to the Queen.

Painting by Florian Cynk of the Miner presenting the engament ring to the Queen.

In 1279, King Boleslaus died, and Kinga, despite the entreaties of her people that she should take in hand the government of the kingdom, sold all her earthly possessions for the relief of the poor and entered the monastery of the Poor Clares at Sandeck. The remaining thirteen years of her life she spent in prayer and penance, edifying her fellow religious by her numerous virtues, especially by her heroic humility. She never permitted anyone to refer to the fact that she had once been a queen and was foundress of the community at Sandeck.

Pope Alexander VIII beatified Kinga in 1690. In 1695 she was made chief patroness of Poland and Lithuania. On June 16, 1999 she was canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Wieliczka Salt Mine, started in the 13th century and operated until 2007, is often referred to as “the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” The miners attended Mass daily, but with the mine being over 300 km long it was necessary to construct several chapels within the mine. The Cathedral of St. Kinga is the largest, and most elaborate of Wieliczka’s forty chapels. It is lined with several highly detailed frescos that were carved by three men and their assistants, working for 60 years. The altar, chandeliers, and even the floor are all made of salt. According to Polish tradition, the mine’s discovery in the 13th century was due to Queen St. Kinga. Queen St. Kinga threw her engagement ring into the Maramures salt mine in Hungary, and the ring was carried by the salt deposits to Wieliczka where it was rediscovered and presented to the Queen. Within the Janowice Chamber, there is a salt sculpture depicting the story of St. Kinga, with a miner handing a block of salt to Queen Kinga, containing her engagement ring. Saint Kinga’s relics were placed in a niche of the altar in the Cathedral of St. Kinga.

(cfr. Catholic Encyclopedia: Bl. Cunegundes)

Nobility.org Editorial comment:

Saint Kinga is one more magnificent example of the many saintly kings and queens of the Middle Ages.
These holy sovereigns understood their temporal duties and fulfilled them to perfection and labored without respite for the common good of their peoples.
At the death of her husband, St. Kinga became a Poor Clare. Her famous aunt, St. Elizabeth ofHungary, had become a Third Order Franciscan. How different her times are to ours today.


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