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Krakow, Poland:  Wawel Castle & the Royal Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus and Saint Wenceslaus

About Wawel Castle:

For centuries Wawel Castle was the residence of the kings of Poland and the symbol of Polish statehood. Today it includes the Royal Cathedral as well one of the country’s premier art museums.

Although the formal name on some maps may say “Metropolitan Cathedral of Saints Vitus, Wenceslaus and Adalbert”, the Cathedral generally is more commonly known as “Saint Vitus Cathedral”.  Often referred to as the “Crown of the Kingdom”, it is actually located within Prague Castle and holds the relics of the first Czech saint: Saint Wenceslas.  The foundation of the church was laid in 1344 and the Chapel of Saint Wenceslas was consecrated in 1367. The rest of the Cathedral was completed over many years, culminating in 1770. Construction of the west part of the church is relatively new and was completed in 1929

Of course, from a Catholic perspective, the Royal Cathedral is of special interest, since it holds the tombs of two saints:  Stanislaus and Wenceslaus, both of whom are martyrs.

About Saint Wencelsaus:

(Wenceslas I or “Václav the Good”) was born in 907n AD and was the Prince of Bohemia from 921 until his death, assumed to be in September 935 AD. According to tradition, he was assassinated by his younger brother, Boleslaus the Cruel.  We celebrate the Feast of Saint Wenceslaus on September 28.  You may also recall the Christmas song “Good King Wencelsaus” written for the Feast of Saint Stephen…or “Boxing Day” as it is commonly called.

The Chapel of Saint Wenceslaus is without doubt its main attraction, where the tomb of Saint Wenceslaus can be found.  It also contains thousands of precious stones and magnificent paintings adorning its walls.  It is probably the most sacred place in the Czech Republic and attracts thousands of pilgrims each year.


About Saint Stanislaus:

Born near Krakow in July of 1030, his parents were members of the nobility who  showed great zeal and charity in their practice of the Catholic faith. Stanislaus studied for a time in his own country, and went on to learn theology and canon law in Paris. The death of his parents left him with a large inheritance, which he gave away to the poor.

After his ordination to the priesthood, Stanislaus served Church of Krakow in different pastoral and administrative posts. Following the death of the diocese’s leader, Bishop Lambert Zula, Stanislaus was chosen as his successor in 1071. He did not want the position, but obeyed Pope Alexander II’s order to accept it. Having done so, he proved to be a bold preacher of the Gospel. This boldness brought him into conflict with Poland’s ruler, King Boleslaus II, who was becoming notorious for his violent and depraved lifestyle. After a series of disputes over his scandalous behavior and other matters, Stanislaus found no success in his efforts to reform the king.

He excommunicated the sovereign – who responded with furious anger, sending his soldiers to kill the bishop. They refused to do so, for fear of their souls, so Boleslaus took matters into his own hands. He ambushed Stanislaus and struck him down with a sword during his celebration of Mass in 1079.

St. Stanislaus was soon acclaimed as a martyr and was canonized in 1253 and is patron saint of Poland.  Boleslaus II went on to lose his grip on power and left Poland. In later years he is said to have lived in a monastery, repenting of the murder.


We celebrate the Feast of Saint Stanislaus on April 11 (in Poland the Feast is commemorated on May 8, the date of his death).


About The Royal Cathedral of St. Stainislaus & St. Wenceslaus:

Overlooking the city of Krakow, and its spiritual heart, is the imposing Wawel Castle. Located in the castle is the Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus and Saint Wenceslaus.

Admission to the Cathedral itself is free; however, tickets must be purchased for the Sigismund Bell, the Royal Tombs and the Cathedral Museum.


Finding The Royal Cathedral of St. Stainislaus & St. Wenceslaus:

Address: Wawel 3, 31-001 Kraków, Poland

GPS coordinates: 50° 3′ 16.2216” N, 19° 56′ 7.5048” E

Tel: +48 12 429 95 16

email: info@katedra-wawelska.pl.

Click here for the official website of the Wawel Royal Cathedral of Saint Stanislaus & Saint Wenceslaus.

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