Procession of St. Stanislaus

The first pilgrimage from Wawel Cathedral to the church in Skałka was held on 8 May 1254. Ever since, the procession has been held on the first Sunday after 8 May.

Saint Stanislaus, patron of Poland, served as bishop of Kraków in the 11th century. His conflict with King Bolesław the Bold ended tragically: Stanislaus died a martyr’s death on the king’s orders in 1079 at the Romanesque church in Skałka. Pope Innocent IV canonised Stanislaus as a saint of the Catholic Church in 1253. The first pilgrimage from Wawel cathedral, which holds St. Stanislaus’ tomb, to Skałka – the place of his execution – took place on 8 May 1254. Ever since then it has been held on the first Sunday after 8 May.

Today, the procession carries relics of saints and blesseds of the Kraków Archdiocese: St. Stanislaus, St. Brother Albert, St. Faustina, St. Jacek and St. Florian. The event is attended by priests, representatives of universities and fellowships, councillors, delegations wearing folk costumes from all across Małopolska, and the faithful from Kraków and nearby. The procession sets off from Wawel accompanied by the ringing of the Sigismund Bell, which only tolls on momentous occasions.

The pilgrimage to Skałka was also a tradition of Polish kings on the eves of their coronation; it was seen as a form of expiation for the execution of St. Stanislaus on the orders of – or, according to some sources, at the hand of – King Bolesław the Bold.

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