This painting of King Jadwiga was done by Marcello Bacciarelli based on historical sources and images on seals. (Courtesy of Wikipedia)
St. Jadwiga, Queen of Poland
Also known as Hedwig of Anjou
Born: 1373 or 1374
Coronation: 16 Oct 1384
Died: 17 Jul 1399 during child birth
Beatified: 1979 by Pope John Paul II
Canonized: 1997 by Pope John Paul II
Feast: 28 Feb
Jadwiga was born in Buda in Hungary. She was the youngest daughter of Louis I, King of Hungary. Her mother Elizabeth and her grandmother Elizabeth Lokietkówna were of the Piast dynasty which had ruled Poland from the 9th century until 1370. She was also the granddaughter of King Ladislaus I who had reunited Poland earlier in the 14th century. As the great-niece of Casimir of Poland, she became the Queen of Poland upon her father’s death in 1382. (She was actually given the title king.) Regardless of the title used, she was the first female monarch of Poland. Polish historian Oscar Halecki examined her genealogy and concluded that she had more Polish blood in her than any other nationality.
Jadwiga was engaged to William of Habsburg, Duke of Austria but the engagement was broken off in order to allow her to marry Jagiello, Prince of Lithuania at the age of 13, a marriage her father had arranged. She loved Casimir but politics demanded she marry Jagiello even though he was not a Christian.
Although she was miserable, she offered up her sufferings and her husband, in 1386, converted to Christianity. He became King Landislaus II of Poland after the kingdoms (Poland and Lithuania) were united.
Jadwiga was said to be very beautiful with blond hair and blue eyes. Her corpse was exhumed in 1976 and it was discovered that she was 1.8 meters tall, very tall for a woman of that time. There was no evidence of deformities or disabilities to account for her height.
Jadwiga was known for her charity to the sick and poor and was able to get some laws changed for their benefit. She had a reputation for miraculous answers to prayer. It is said that, during a procession on the Feast of Christ the King, she threw her mantle over the corpse of a coppersmith’s son who had recently drowned in a river and the boy came back to life. Her efforts enable the spread of the gospel to the areas east of Poland. When she died she willed her jewelry to re-establish the University of Krakow.
Despite her sanctity, rumors of immorality were spread about her by Teutonic Knights. They claimed that she had a sexual relationship with William when he tried to convince her to marry him. Charges of adultery and bigamy were made and even were included in the writings of the scholar Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, who became Pope Pius II (1458-64). Her reputation outside of Poland was destroyed.
Jadwiga died in childbirth on 17 Jul 1399. Upon her death she was buried at Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, beneath her favorite crucifix. Many miracles reported at her tomb.
Text © 2018 Gary J. Sibio. All rights reserved.Image is public domain.