Great Ladies
of the
Poor Clares

Saint Kinga (Cunegunda)
(1224 - 1292)

The Queen

God, our Father, You caused St. Kinga
to excel in purity of life and
in wondrous charity to the poor.
Grant that through her prayers
and example
we may go forward rejoicing in spirit
along the way of charity.
Through Christ our Lord.
  Amen.

      T

         The spiritual revolution begun by St. Francis of Assisi touched all sectors of 13th century life.  While Franciscanism is often considered a grassroots movement, it sparked another spiritual phenomenon which could be described as “holiness in high places.”   The fervent, joyful enthusiasm of the early Franciscans was so contagious that even some of the European royalty caught the Gospel flame and became dedicated followers of the Little Poor Man.

Among this noble number was Kinga (also known by her Latin name, Cunegunda).  Born in 1224, she was the daughter of King Bela of Hungary and a niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary .  From an early age, she felt called to consecrate her virginity to God and to live for Him alone.  Pope John Paul II, who canonized Kinga in June 1999, describes the single-hearted response of this royal teen-ager in the face of political expediency and prevailing social custom:  When the circumstances of the time dictated that she was to marry Prince Boleslaus (of Cracow), she convinced him to live a life of virginity for the glory of God, and after a waiting period of two years the spouses made a vow of perpetual chastity in the hands of Bishop Prandota.

Shortly after this, Prince Boleslaus became his nation’s reigning sovereign.  Together the couple ruled Poland , happily and holily, for almost forty years.  Blessed John Paul continues: At her husband’s side, Kinga shared in his rule, showing firmness and courage, generosity and concern for the good of the country and her subjects.  Her care for the poor was lavish; her support of the Church, unflagging.  Queen Kinga knew how to seek first the Kingdom of God and her deeply Franciscan spirit of prayer equipped her to govern wisely.

When Boleslaus died, many hoped that Kinga would continue to rule.  However, Poland ’s Queen had only one wish – to spend the remainder of her life in the Poor Clare monastery she had helped to found in Sandek.  The sisters who lived with her were inspired by her love of God, her humility, prayerfulness and virtue.  Kinga placed all of her gifts at the service of heaven’s King, and soon her monastery was known not only as a haven of prayer but also as a center of Polish culture.

St. Kinga, Poor Clare heiress and queen of the Kingdom of heaven, died on July 24, 1292 .  Saints do not fade away, Pope John Paul remarked at her canonization.  Then he asked: What is the name of that power which defies the inexorable law that says, “Everything fades away?” The name of this power is love.   

 

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