Skalka Church, Krakow
The nicest way to discover the Kazimierz district is by following the promenade along the Vistula so as to discover the beautiful riverside sanctuary called Skalka = small roc (photo 1) .
In 1079 the Skalka Sanctuary became the place of martyrdom of the Krakow bishop Stanislaw, who was murdered by the then Polish king, Boleslaw the Bold, when he was celebrating mass.
Stanislaw was canonized by Pope Innocent IV in Assisi in 1253. He was the first native Polish saint and is still patron saint of Poland and Krakow .
It is one of the most important religious sites in Krakow and consequently visited by pilgrims and groups.
In the 14th century there was a Romanesque church followed by a Gothic church. Since 1472, the church has belonged to the Pauline Fathers, as well as the monastery. The Baroque church we see now is from 1750 (photo 2) .
Just on the right side of the entrance to the church stands a baroque monument called the Pond of St. Stanislaw. A sculpture of the martyr stands in the middle of the pool (photo 3).
Further to the right is a contemporary religious monument called "Three of the Millennium Altar" .
The inside of the Pauline church shows a harmonious baroque décor with much less gilt than most Krakow churches. The high altar (1761), decorated with six Corinthian blue marble columns shows originality (photo 4) .
On the left stands the altar of St. Stanislaw (photo 5). According to tradition it's on this spot that the bishop was killed. Below, mounted in a glass case, one finds a block of wood on which the bishop was quartered .
Open: 08.30 -18.30 h. No visit during mass.
Masses: weekdays 7, 8, 16, 19 h; Sundays 7, 8, 9, 10.30, 12.30, 17.30 & 20 h.
Free. Photos are allowed.
There is a toilet opposite the church entrance.
Skalka, Krakow's oldest shrine and Poland's second holiest sanctuary after the Jasna Gora monastery in Chestochowa, consists of the Pauline Church and the adjoining 17th-century Pauline monastery. Today's Baroque church was built during the 18th century, but is the third edifice on the same spot: the first one was a Romanesque rotunda followed by a Gothic church. But what is interesting is the first one, the rotunda. Here King Boleslav II the Bold beheaded the Krakow bishop Stanislaus in 1079. (We can still see the tree trunk which is believed to have been used. It's on the left to the altar in the church.) The body is supposed to have been dumped into the pond in front of the church. The pond was later transformed into a pool with a sculpture of St. Stanislaus put in the middle.
The king was chased in exile and the bishop was worshiped as a martyr, making up a cult which was to a great extent forming much of the political culture and the Polish nation itself. Stanislaus was canonized in 1253 and became patron saint of Poland.
Every year on St. Stanislaus' Day, May 8, there is a procession led by the Krakow bishops, when the relics of the saint are carried from Skalka to the Wavel Castle.
Underneath the church there is a crypt containing 12 tombs of prominent Poles from the 1880s and on. It is open to the public.
There is a new monument rised at Skalka. It consists of seven tall statues honouring the following Poles:
St. Adalbert, /Wojtech in Polish/ (956 - 997). He was educated in Magdeburg, Roman monk, bishop of Prague, apostle of Hungary and Poland, killed in Prussia. He is buried in a silver coffin in Gniezno.
St. Stanislaus (1030 - 1079). He was bishop of Krakow, martyred at Skalka by King Boleslaw the Bold. (The information at Skalka says he was beheaded by King Boleslaw the Brave, but the king died in 1025 ...). Patron saint of Poland.
St. Hedwig (1374 - 1399). Ruler of Poland from 1384 (!) to her death. She is known to Poles and Lithuanians as Jadwiga. Her official title was "king" instead of "queen" because the laws did not allow a female ruler at that time. It should also show that she was the sovereign ruler in her own. She supported many monasteries financially and gave funds for building several churches. She also testamented her fortune to the Academy of Krakow. Canonized in 1997 by the Pope.
St. John Cantius (1390 - 1473). Professor of the Academy of Krakow. He showed great sensitivity towards the poor and oppressed. He is now the prinicpal patron of the city as well as the archdiocese of Krakow.
Father Augustyn Kordecki (1603 - 1673). He became famous for his defence of the monastery during the Swedish invasion of Poland in 1655.
St. Faustina (1903 - 1938). She was called "the secretary of Divine Mercy, a mystic". In her diary she wrote about her religious dreams.
Pope John Paul II (1920 - 2005). He was born as Karol Jozef Wojtyla.
In the past the church was a seat of bishop Stanislaw, one of the most controversial figures in Polish history. We still do not know if he was a renegade and leader of anti-king oposition or rather a saint and victim of a king's purge. The story is so old that even the oldest chroniclers can know it only from second hand.
Today's church's appearance dates back to 18th century. It is very important place for the Poles since many famous poets and writes were buried in church's vaults.