Queen of Poland St. Jadwiga
St. Jadwiga was the youngest daughter of Louis I of Hungary and Elizabeth of Bosnia. St. Jadwiga was a great-granddaughter of King Władysław I the Elbow-high, who had reunited Poland in 1320. St. Jadwiga was brought up at the royal court in Buda and Visegrad, Hungary. As a ten-year-old girl she came to Cracow and on November 16, 1384 St. Jadwiga was crowned King of Poland – Hedvig Rex Polonia, not Hedvig Regina Polonia. The masculine gender of her title was meant to emphasize that she was monarch in her own right, not a queen consort. In 1385 Jogaila and the lords of Lesser Poland signed the Union of Krewo whereby Jogaila pledged to adopt Latin Christianity and unite Lithuania with Poland in exchange for St. Jadwiga’s hand and the Polish crown. Twelve-year-old Jadwiga and 36-year-old Jogaila – who had earlier been baptized Władysław – were wed in March 1385 at Cracow. This was followed by Jogaila’s coronation as King of Poland, although St. Jadwiga retained her royal rights. As a monarch, St.Jadwiga probably had little actual power. Nevertheless, she was actively engaged in her kingdom’s political, diplomatic and cultural life. St.Jadwiga was well educated and a polyglot, speaking Latin, Hungarian, Croat, Polish, German, interested in the arts, music, science, and court life. She was also known for her piety and her admiration for Saints Mary, Martha, and Bridget of Sweden, as well as her patron saint, Hedwig of Andechs. She had many Latin books translated into Polish for her people. She also donated much of her wealth to charity, including the founding of hospitals. Among Jadwiga’s accomplishments was the founding of a bishopric in Vilnus. Most importantly, perhaps, she donated her jewelry, dresses- even her royal insignia- to restore the Academy of Cracow, since called Jagiellonian University in honor of her and her husband. On June 22, 1399 St.Jadwiga gave birth to a daughter, baptized Elizabeth Bonifacia. Within a month, both the girl and her mother had died from birth complications. They were buried together in Wawel Cathedral. Her death undermined Jogaila’s position as King of Poland, but he managed to retain the throne until his death 35 years later. On June 8, 1997 in Wawel Cathedral our pope John Paul II pronounced her Saint.