Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Treasury of the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow

Nicola has just returned from a trip to Krakow, where he visited the cathedral of Ss Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, commonly known as the Wawel cathedral from the hill on which it is located. Here are his pictures of some of the items from the church’s treasury, including a number of very beautiful chasubles. There are also a few items from a museum show about the Piast dynasty, the first royal house of Poland, who ruled from ca. 960 to 1370. We start with one of the rarest of liturgical garments, the rationale, which is similar to the pallium: a collar worn over the shoulders on top of the chasuble, ornamented at the front and back with appendages. The form used at Krakow is quite different from that used in the handful of other places that have retained it, Eichstätt and Paderborn in Germany, and Toul in France.
A chasuble decorated with scenes of the life of St Stanislaus, the bishop of Krakow martyred in 1079, donated by Piotr Kmita, the governor of the city, in 1503, for the 250th anniversary of the Saint’s canonization.
Items from the museum show: a reliquary bust of St Sigismund, a 6th century King of the Burgundians who is widely venerated as a martyr, major relics of whom are kept in several different places. This reliquary was made to house his skull, which is at the cathedral of the Polish city of Płock; it was a gift of King Casimir III, commissioned in about 1370, and made in the Upper Rhine area. The crown with which it is now decorated was formerly used by the Dukes of Masovia.
The Cross of Crowns, a Rhenish work of the second quarter of the 13th century, assembled in its current form in Krakow in 1471-88.
This crown was discovered during excavations at a former Benedictine monastery at Sandomierz in 1910, and is now linked to King Casimir III, known as “the Great”, the last king of the Piast dynasty. The lance seen next to it is a replica of the Holy Lance; it was given to Duke Boleslaw I the Brave in the year 1000 by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, who, while visiting the tomb of St Adalbert in Gniezno, then the capital of Poland, officially recognized the former as King of Poland.
A cover for a Gospel book made of embossed silver ca. 1170.
A mitre made in the mid-13th century from Italian fabric, possibly for the canonization of St Stanislaus, which was celebrated in Assisi by Pope Innocent IV in 1253.
An ivory box made in Paris ca. 1335-50, traditionally said to have belonged to St Hedwig, Queen of Poland from 1373 to 1399; decorated with scenes of courtly life, it was later transformed into a reliquary.
The “Szczerbiec”, a ceremonial sword made in the 12th or 13th century, and used at the coronation ceremonies of the Polish kings from 1320 until 1764, the last coronation; this is the only part of the Polish crown jewels that dates back to the period of the Piasts.
Back to the cathedral treasury.
The mantle worn by Stanislaus II Augustus Poniatowski, the last King of Poland, at his coronation ceremony in 1764.
A golden rose given by Pope Clement XII to Queen Maria Josepha.

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