The stories about the people from the past are usually fascinating, but sometimes when you read such a biographies you might have outstanding expectations. The stories about the saint people seem to be a good example of this theory. People who read the biographies of famous saint people expect to find inspiring and beautiful stories. However, many of them are full of details that could ruin the perfect image we expect. In case of the Polish saints there are at least five perfect examples of the epic stories full of the interesting details:
1. St. Stanisław (11th century)
Patron of Poland, the bishop of Kraków, one of the most important Polish saints. Although he is believed to be one of the first native Polish bishops, the information about him comes from the chronicles which historical value has been questioned by some of the researchers. According to the legend, Stanisław was murdered by the Polish king Bolesław II the Bold. Their conflict was described by Wincenty Kadłubek, whose work seems to be inspired by the other books by unknown authors. The body of Stanisław was chopped up and buried. However, when he was exhumed a few centuries later, people saw the body in one piece. Some of them believed that it was a message from God that Poland will take its greatness back.
2. St. Wojciech (10th century)
He was also known as Adalbert of Prague, the bishop, and martyr. According to the official history, he was a bohemian missionary who traveled through the current lands of Poland and Christianized the Prussians. He was murdered near the Baltic Sea, perhaps close to the Kaliningrad. However, people still believe that he died in a place called Święty Gaj. The sad part of his story is related to the reasons why he decided to become a missionary. He had depression due to the personal tragedy and perhaps looked for a good way to die as soon as possible. The fact of the death of an entire family of Adalbert was used by Polish. The king of Poland, Bolesław Chrobry, convinced him to make a pilgrimage as a missionary to the wildest parts of the land of Prussians. Chrobry believed that Wojciech will be killed by them. However, Poland needed a new saint. After the death of Wojciech, Polish king bought his body from Prussians and buried it at the cathedral in Gniezno, where the cult of St Wojciech started to grow.
3. St. Kinga (13th century)
Although she was Hungarian, she is a chief patroness of Poland and Lithuania. As a wife of Bolesław V the Chaste she spent a lot of time in Poland. After the death of her husband in 1279, she declared poverty and sold all her material possessions. Moreover, she decided not to take part in ruling the kingdom and joined the Poor Clares monastery at Sandec. However, the researchers believe that Kinga escaped from responsibility and necessity of getting married to another man. At the same time, she followed her life in a not so “saint” way as most of the people believe.
4. St. Dorota z Mątowów (14th century)
Although in Poland she has a status of blessed, in Germany she is a Saint. She was born near Malbork (German: Marienburg), but when she was 16 years old got married to swordsmith of Gdańsk (Danzig). Soon after the wedding, she began to experience spiritual visions. Although her husband wasn’t happy about it, he tried to support her. In the meantime, she bore nine children, but only one survived the childhood. The numerous pilgrimages and other religious ideas of Dorota made her family bankrupt. Her husband died during the pilgrimage to Rome. When she returned, she moved to Kwidzyn (Marienwerder) and with the permission of the Teutonic Order established a cell where she spent the rest of her life as a hermit. When she died, Teutonic Order could use her story as an element of their propaganda.
5. St. Faustyna Kowalska (20th century)
Her real name was Helena. She was born in 1905 and lived 33 years. At the age of 20 she became a nun, and soon later she started to have visions of Jesus. She claimed to have conversations with him and wrote about it in her diary, published as „The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul”. Sounds impressive, right? Sadly, some of the psychiatrists suggest that Faustyna suffered due to the psychic disorder. Numerous of psychiatrists tried to solve the mystery of this woman, and most of them noticed the symptoms of a serious mental disease. Although a lot of the researchers wanted to believe in her gift, their diagnosis pinpointed a sad story of a mentally ill woman.