St Stanislaus of Szczepanów (1030-1079)
A foremost patron of Poland and Krakow, Stanislaus was born in Szczepanów in 1030, and was a bishop of Krakow. He was murdered as he celebrated Holy Mass in the Krakow Church of St Michael the Archangel, by King Boleslaus II, the Bold (because he had dared to condemn the king’s misconduct in public). He was canonised by Pope Innocent IV in 1253. Legend has it that his quartered body miraculously fused together again after his death. The relics of St Stanislaus now rest in a silver sarcophagus before the Baroque altarpiece at the centre of the cathedral on Wawel Hill in Krakow. Every year on the first Sunday following 8 May (the feast of St Stanislaus) a great procession bearing his relics is held in the city, attended by cardinals, bishops, priests and monks and nuns from all the religious houses in the city, as well as representatives of guilds, trade unions and other historical groups in their gala uniforms and costumes, who march to the sounds of a brass band playing religious hymns.
St Adalbert (956-997)
St Adalbert (known in Polish as St Wojciech) is the foremost patron saint of Poland, although elsewhere in the world he is better known as St Adalbert of Prague. This saintly bishop was born in 956 in Libice, Bohemia. At the age of 27 he became the first archbishop of Prague. Adalbert decided to lead a mission to convert the pagan peoples of Prussia. The Polish king Boleslaus the Brave appointed him an escort, which enabled him to reach Gdansk, and from there he proceeded with a small number of monks. But his missionary work did not last long; he and his companions were murdered on the Baltic coast in the spring of 997.
Adalbert was proclaimed a saint very rapidly – in 999, by Pope Sylvester II. The Polish king had his body brought back, and deposited it in the cathedral in Gniezno, the first capital of the Polish state and its metropolitan seat. In 1039 the saint’s body was ultimately removed to Prague, but Gniezno, as his first resting place, remains a vibrant centre of the cult of St Adalber