Krakow: the Royal Cathedral

Did I mention that it was foggy yesterday? There was no way to get a decent photo of the outside of the Cathedral - this is one that has a GNU license on Wikipedia. (The rest are mine.)

Here is the main entrance to the Cathedral:

The Cathedral is on Wawel Hill and is the most important national sanctuary for Poland. The Polish monarchs were crowned here and it has been the place of celebration of major national events. One of the more recent was the blessing of the banners of the Solidarity Trade Union, marking a major step in the downfall of the communist government.

In the centre of the main aisle is the altar of St Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr. He found himself in opposition to some of the policies of King Bolesław, whom he excommunicated, and in 1079, he was murdered as he was saying Mass. (English readers will notice some similarity with the figure of St Thomas a Becket. There is, in fact a shrine to him also in the Cathedral.) St Stanislaus was canonised at Assisi in 1253.

Below is a closer view of the sarcophagus of St Stanislaus. On the right is the votive candle donated by Pope John Paul when he celebrated Mass here on the 900th anniversary of the saint's martyrdom.

There are a number of monuments to great royals of Polish history, including St Jadwiga, the holy Queen of Poland who died in 1399. She was noted for her generosity to the poor and for donating her jewellery and dresses to raise money for the founding of the Jagellionian university.

The altar pictured below has the crucifix which spoke to St Jadwiga. We followed the pious instruction and said a prayer, asking Our Lord to speak to our hearts and asking ourselves how much gratitude we had shown for his sacred wounds.

The crypt has many royal tombs, as well as the tombs of figures related to important events in Polish History. Below is the chapel of St Leonard. It was on this altar that the newly ordained Fr Karol Wojtyla said his first Mass:

Here is the tomb of Marshal Jozef Pilsudski, the first Marshal of the independent republic of Poland that was formed in the wake of the first world war. Pilsudski died in 1935 but had already seen and warned of the menace of the rising Nazi party that was so soon to engulf Poland.

And, for the Americans among you, here is the tomb of Tadeusz Kosciuszko who was a hero of the American War of Independence, being the head engineer of the Continental Army. After the war, he was placed in charge of the military engineering works at West Point.

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