Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Queen Jadwiga entered through the vestry door too. Seeing her, the knights standing near the stalls, immediately kneeled, although mass had not begun, voluntarily paying her homage as to a saint. Zbyszko did the same, nobody in the assembly doubted that they really saw a saint, whose image would in the future adorn the church altars. Especially last few years of pious life earned her, beside the respect due to a queen, almost a religious worship. It was reported that the queen could perform miracles. They said that she could cure the sick by touching them with her hand; that people who could not move their legs nor their arms, were able to do it, after they put on her old clothes. Trustworthy witnesses affirmed that they had heard Christ speaking to her from the altar. Foreign monarchs worshipped her, and even the Teutonic Order respected her and feared to offend her. Pope Boniface IX called her the pious and chosen daughter of the church. The world looked at her deeds and remembered that this child of the Angevin house and Polish Piasts, this daughter of the powerful Louis, and also one of the most beautiful women on earth, renounced happiness, renounced her first love and married a "wild" prince of Lithuania, so they both could deliver to the Cross the last pagan nation in Europe. What could not be accomplished by the forces of all the Germans, power of the Order, sea of blood, was done with one word from her. Never did the glory of an apostleship shine over a younger and more charming forehead; never was the apostleship united with equal self-denial; never was the beauty of a woman lighted with such angelic kindness and such quiet sadness.

Therefore minstrels sang about her in all the European courts, knights from the remotest countries came to Krakow to see the "Queen of Poland;" her own people loved her as the pupil of the eye, because their power and glory had increased by her marriage with Jagiello. Only one great sorrow hung over her and the nation, for long years the God had denied her a child.

But now this sorrow had passed away and the joyful news of God's blessing on the queen spread with lightning speed from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and filled with joy all peoples of the kingdom. In all foreign courts, except in the capital of the Teutonic Order, the news was received with pleasure. In Rome "Te Deum", hymn of praise, was sung. In all the provinces of Poland the belief was firmly established, that anything the "Saint Lady" asked of God, would be granted.

Therefore people came to her and asked her to pray for their health. The envoys came from different provinces to ask her to pray for rain, or for fair weather for harvesting, for abundant fishing in the lakes or for game in the forests.

Those knights, living in castles and small forts on the frontier, who according to the custom learned from the Germans, had become robbers or waged war among themselves, at the command of the queen, put down their swords and released their prisoners without ransom, restored stolen herds and shook hands in friendship. All kinds of misery, all kinds of poverty crowded the gates of her castle in Krakow. Her pure spirit penetrated human hearts, softened the tough lives of slaves, the great pride of the lords, the severity of the judges, and hovered like a dove of happiness, like an angel of justice and peace, over the whole country.

No wonder then that all were anxiously waiting for the day of blessing.

The knights looked closely at the figure of the queen, to see if they could judge how long they would have to wait for the future heir to the throne. The bishop of Krakow was also the best physician in the country, and famous even abroad, had not announced when the delivery would occur. They were making some preparation, because it was the custom at that time to begin all festivals as early as possible, and to prolong them for weeks. In fact the figure of the lady had retained until now its former grandeur. She was dressed with excessive simplicity. Formerly, having been brought up at a big court and being more beautiful than any of the contemporary princesses, she was fond of costly fabrics, of chains, pearls, gold bracelets and rings; but now she not only wore the dress of a nun, but she covered her face, fearing that the thoughts of her beauty might arouse in her worldly vanity. In vain Jagiello, having learned of her pregancy, full of joy ordered her bedroom to be decorated with gold and jewels. She let him know that having renounced all luxury she knows that the time of child delivery is often the time of death. She decided that not among jewels, but in quiet humility she ought to receive the God’s blessing promised to her.

Meanwhile the gold and jewels went to establish a university and to send the newly converted Lithuanian youths to foreign universities.

The queen agreed only to stop wearing her monastical dress, and from the time that the hope of maternity was changed to positive certainty, she did not veil her face thinking that the dress of a penitent was no longer proper.

Consequently everybody was now looking with love at that beautiful face, to which neither gold, nor precious stones could add any charm. The queen walked slowly from the vestry door toward the altar, with uplifted eyes, holding in one hand a book, in the other a rosary. Zbyszko saw the gentle face, the blue eyes, and the angelic features full of peace, kindness and mercy, and his heart began to throb with emotion. He knew that according to God's command he ought to love the king and the queen, and he did in his way, but now his heart overflowed with a great love, which did not come by command, but burst forth like a flame, his heart was also filled with the greatest worship, humility and desire for sacrifice. The young Zbyszko was impulsive, therefore a desire immediately seized him, to show in some way that love and the faithfulness of a knight; to accomplish some deed for her; to rush somewhere, to conquer and to risk his own life for it all. "I may go with Duke Witold," he said to himself, "because how can I serve the holy lady, if there is no war here." He did not stop to think that one can serve in other ways as well as with sword or spear or axe; he was ready to attack alone the whole power of Timur the Lame. He wanted to jump on his horse immediately after mass and begin something. What? He did not know himself. He only knew, that he could wait, that his hands were burning and his whole soul was on fire.
He again forgot about the danger looming over him. He even forgot about Danusia, and when he remembered her, having heard the children singing in the church, he felt that this love was something different. He had promised Danusia fidelity; he had promised her three Germans and he would keep his promise. But the queen is above all women. While he was thinking how many people he would like to kill for the queen, he perceived regiments of armors, helmets, ostrich feathers, peacocks' crests, and he felt that even that would be small in proportion to his desire.

No comments: