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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

July 24
St. Kunigunde
(1224-1292)


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When Pope John Paul II traveled to his native Poland in June 1999, he fulfilled a long-held dream to canonize Kunigunde, a Polish princess whose elevation to sainthood had been stalled for many years because of political conditions. Celebrating the momentous event with him were half a million people who gathered in a field outside the small town of Stary Sacz.

Kunigunde, or Kinga, was born in 13th-century Hungary into a royal family distinguished for its political power as well as its holy women. Her aunts included St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Hedwig and St. Agnes of Prague; numbered among her siblings are the Dominican St. Margaret and Blessed Yolande.

When only 15, Kunigunde became engaged to the man who was to become the next King of Poland: Boleslaus V. Upon their marriage, the two took vows of chastity before the bishop and lived out their promises during their 40 years of married life. Meanwhile, Queen Kunigunde undertook the care of her young sister and spent many hours visiting the sick in hospitals. As the First Lady of Poland she was ever attentive to the welfare of her people and their special needs.

When King Boleslaus died in 1279, the people urged the queen to take over the reins of government, but she wished to consecrate herself wholly to God. For 13 years she lived the simple life of a Poor Clare nun, residing at a convent she and her husband had established. Ultimately she was elected abbess, and governed with charity and wisdom. She died a peaceful death, surrounded by her loving sisters. Many miracles are said to have occurred at her tomb.

In 1715, Pope Clement XI chose her as the special patron of Poles and Lithuanians.



Comment:

Kunigunde must have learned at home the charity that won her canonization. Perhaps it was the generosity of her sainted aunts that impressed her; more likely she picked it up from her immediate family. In any case, she cared for others’ needs even as a teenage bride. The virtue of charity, like faith, is more caught than taught. If youngsters see us responding to poverty and suffering, chances are they will follow in our footsteps.


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

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