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A plaque of black marble from Dębnik, situated to the north of the base of the main altar in the Wawel cathedral. The entire eastern part of the chancel is elevated above the floor level and forms a spacious platform for celebrations of liturgical ceremonies. In the middle of it and on the sides, there are three identical protrusions.
In 1605, an Italian stonemason, Ambrogio Meazzi, was commissioned to dismantle the fence in front of St Erasmus altar (the ciborium was relocated to the Chapel of Our Lady) and move the tomb of Frederick Jagiellon, as well as to change the layout of stairs leading to the main altar.

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A plaque of black marble from Dębnik, situated to the north of the base of the main altar in the Wawel cathedral. The entire eastern part of the chancel is elevated above the floor level and forms a spacious platform for celebrations of liturgical ceremonies. In the middle of it and on the sides, there are three identical protrusions.
In 1605, an Italian stonemason, Ambrogio Meazzi, was commissioned to dismantle the fence in front of St Erasmus altar (the ciborium was relocated to the Chapel of Our Lady) and move the tomb of Frederick Jagiellon, as well as to change the layout of stairs leading to the main altar. As a result, the base of the altar was elevated and the chapter ordered Meazzi to place marble on the queen’s tomb, next to the strip, with an inscription. The remodelling continued over the next years and in the years 1647–1650, a new magnificent main altar was erected, founded by bishop Piotr Gembicki. He commissioned to projections made of black marble from Dębnik, located on each side of the base in the eastern side of the chancel, matching in size the tomb of Frederick Jagiellon in the middle of the stairs.  In the left projection, a plaque confirming the location of queen Jadwiga’s remains was placed. The plaque said: Jadwiga, the daughter of Louis, king of Hungary and Poland, the granddaughter of Casimir the Great, the wife of Władysław Jagiełło, died in the year of Our Lord 1399. The inscription continues: Behind this marble stone, she awaits the doomsday. The last part of the inscription remarks: Transferred 14 + VII in the Year of Our Lord 1949.

Elaborated by Marek Walczak, PhD (The Institute of Art History), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

Bibliography:
Adam Bochnak, Groby królowej Jadwigi i królewicza Kazimierza Jagiellończyka w katedrze wawelskiej, Studia do Dziejów Wawelu, vol. III, Kraków 1968, pp. 149–173;
father Jacek Urban, Grób – relikwiarz Świętej Królowej Jadwigi, Kraków 1999;
father Michał Jagosz, Beatyfikacja i kanonizacja świętej Jadwigi królowej, Studia do dziejów Wydziału Teologicznego Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego, vol. XV, Kraków 2003.

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The original tomb of Queen Jadwiga

Queen Jadwiga of Poland died on the 17th of July 1399, a few weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia (on the 22nd of June), probably of complications related to childbirth (puerperal fever). She was buried on the 19th of July, together with her daughter, who died at the same time, in the chancel of Wawel Cathedral, on the northern side of the platform of the main altar. Jan Długosz gave testimony to this by writing that the queen rested in Cracoviensia ecclesia ad partem Altaris laev maioris, de prope Sacrarium [Latin: in the cathedral of Kraków on the left side of the main altar, beside the ciborium]. The choice of such a prominent location was probably as a result of the fame of her holiness, as well as the efforts aimed at her canonisation, which had already been planned at the time of the queen's death.

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Queen Jadwiga of Poland died on the 17th of July 1399, a few weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Elizabeth Bonifacia (on the 22nd of June), probably of complications related to childbirth (puerperal fever). She was buried on the 19th of July, together with her daughter, who died at the same time, in the chancel of Wawel Cathedral, on the northern side of the platform of the main altar. Jan Długosz gave testimony to this by writing that the queen rested in Cracoviensia ecclesia ad partem Altaris laev maioris, de prope Sacrarium [Latin: in the cathedral of Kraków on the left side of the main altar, beside the ciborium]. The choice of such a prominent location was probably as a result of the fame of her holiness, as well as the efforts aimed at her canonisation, which had already been planned at the time of the queens death. It is evidenced by an obituary entered into the Calendar of Kraków on the day of her death. It highlighted the extraordinary virtues and merits of the deceased. In his homily given during the funeral in the cathedral, Piotr Wysz, the bishop of Kraków, called Jadwiga the pride of the Polish Kingdom and an example of the ideal citizen, a unique jewel, a comfort to widows, a solace to the poor, an aid to the oppressed, respectful to Church dignitaries, a refuge for priests, and an inspiration for peace, as well as a testimony to and anchorage for Gods law”.
The Queens burial place was adjacent to the altar of St. Erasmus and St. Bridget, founded by the Queen shortly before her death. On the altar a ciborium was placed to hold the Blessed Sacrament. The choice of the patrons of the altar seems to be characteristic as St.  Erasmus was worshipped as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and appealed to especially in the case of abdominal pain. Therefore, we can guess that the Queen founded it in connection with her long-awaited pregnancy. In the last years of her life, Jadwiga deeply venerated St. Bridget of Sweden. The selection of her burial site was based on a belief that the proximity to the continually celebrated Eucharistic sacrifice was a guarantee of Gods care of the dead. Later, Prince Casimir, son of Władysław Jagiełło and his last wife Sophia, who died a year after his birth (1427), was buried in front of the altar. The function of the platform, located in front of the main altar, as a kind of an internal mausoleum for royal family members, is evidenced by the burial of the youngest son of Casimir IV Jagiellonian and Elizabeth of Austria, and of Cardinal Fryderyk Jagiellon, the Archbishop and Bishop of Kraków (died in 1503).
Jadwigas burial chamber was made from carefully fitted limestone blocks, the surfaces of which were chiselled for uniform fit. At the bottom there is an foundation of four layers of bricks arranged according to the Polish system, with alternating longer and shorter sides (stretcher – header – stretcher). The chambers inside length is 234.5–239 cm, width 100–102 cm, and depth 154 cm (38 cm above the bottom, and 116 cm below the top edge); 10 iron bars for the coffin setting were built into the longer walls of the chamber during its construction. They were to provide insulation and protection for the burial site against humidity. The shorter sides of the burial chamber were finished smoothly from the outside; the southern side was made of a limestone plate (196 x 80 cm) with sculptural finish on the outside. There are two rows of arched arcades on it, one of which has a decoration in the form of a multi-petalled rosette. This was probably a fragment of the antependium of the main altar of the cathedral (consecrated in 1346), which, for unknown reasons (it may have cracked during processing), was shortened and re-used to prepare Jadwigas grave. The northern wall of the chamber has not been available from the outside; therefore, it is not known how it was finished. An opening in the floor was covered with a large (234 x 115.5 cm) and very thick (23.5 cm) limestone plate. There is no information about the appearance of the original coffin. The queens body was found in a large wooden chest without a lid, which was closed with boards loosely placed on top. It is believed that the body was moved during works in the chancel of the church, carried out sometime in the mid-17th century.  
There is nothing to suggest that the queen's grave was commemorated with a ground structure or an image of the deceased. Only vague references to the bars in front of the queens tomb and the altar of St.  Erasmus remain; they indicate that they were somehow separated from the chancel area. The custom of separating tombs in this way was discovered in Gaul as early as the sixth century by Gregory of Tours. In Wawel Cathedral, intra cancellos ferreos [Latin: between the grating], there were also tombstones of, among others, Władysław Jagiełło (in the main body of the church) and his third wife – Elizabeth Granowska. It can be assumed that this extremely modest commemoration of the deceased initiated a tradition in Wawel Cathedral. In the same way, under plain slabs inserted into the floor, the other wives of Władysław Jagiełło, Ann of Cilli and Sophia of Halshany, were buried there. The situation was probably the same in the case of Elizabeth Granowska, while the tomb of Elizabeth of Austria took the form of a low unornamented tomb, decorated only with rich fabric.

Elaborated by Marek Walczak, PhD (Institute of Art History Jagiellonian University), editorial team of Małopolska’s Virtual Museums, © all rights reserved

Bibliography:
A. Bochnak, Groby królowej Jadwigi i królewicza Kazimierza Jagiellończyka w katedrze wawelskiej, „Studia do Dziejów Wawelu”, t. III, Kraków 1968, p. 149–173;
J. Urban, Grób – relikwiarz Świętej Królowej Jadwigi, Kraków 1999;
M. Jagosz, Beatyfikacja i kanonizacja świętej Jadwigi królowej, „Studia do dziejów Wydziału Teologicznego Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego”, vol. XV, Kraków 2003.

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Marble plaque commemorating the burial site of queen Jadwiga

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