Pope John Paul II Cathedral Museum
ancient items from the treasury of Krakow’s
Wawel Cathedral are displayed in the 14th-century Gothic
buildings opposite the main entry to the church. The Cathedral
Museum was opened in 1978 by then Cardinal
Karol Wojtyla, future Pope John Paul II, just weeks before
the historic conclave that would begin his pontificate.
little Cathedral Museum (Muzeum Katedralne) boasts an array of
exhibits that may be the envy of any collection of medieval
church art in the world. “Kmita’s
Chasuble” of 1503, the masterwork of Gothic
embroidery (see the picture), is just one of them. The
museum’s other gems include ornate golden monstrances and
varied liturgical vessels such as fine chalices and ampullas,
precious ancient crosses, fancy reliquaries, lavish chasubles
and other vestments from the 15th century to the 19th century
such as copes and miters, plus old paintings and
distinct group of exhibits consists of the regalia of Polish
monarchs (in that number copies of items found in Wawel
Cathedral’s royal tombs) and
assorted memorabilia connected with the great Poles, from the
medieval saints to historical Krakow bishops to Pope John Paul
shows in Krakow’s Cathedral Museum complement its permanent
Museum’s crown jewels.
various reasons the following curios deserve special
golden cross made of two Romanesque coronets with
mysterious ornaments. The coronets, possibly of the 13th
century, tradition associates with Poland’s duke
Boleslav V the Shy (1226-1279) and his saintly wife,
Blessed Kinga (1224-92). The diadems were joined to form
the cross in the late 15th century.
Hedwig’s goblet. Tradition associates the precious glass
of the 11th-century Fatimid make (Egypt) with Princess
Hedwig of Silesia (Polish name Jadwiga, born circa 1174
died 1243), the saintly wife of Poland’s ruler Henryk
Brodaty (Duke Henry the Bearded).
mantle of King Stanislav August (1732-1798), Poland’s
last monarch who abdicated in 1795.
12th-century silver casket made by a Saracen silversmith
on Sicily. Decorated with Arabic inscriptions as well as
embossed scenes of fighting knights and a medieval hunt,
it nevertheless served long as a church reliquary.
Stanislav’s miter decorated with pearls, sapphires,
and rubies and his ring. Tradition associates them with
Krakow’s bishop-martyr killed in 1079 though experts
believe both items date from the mid-13th century.
Sigismund II August’s ornate sword of the 16th century
ceremoniously broken twice at his funeral.
two most prized objects from the cathedral treasure are
missing from the exhibition in the museum. One is the Spear of St.
Maurice (actually a 10th-century copy of Vienna’s original),
given to Poland’s monarch Boleslav I the Brave by Emperor
Otto III in year 1000 as a friendship token. The other is a golden
reliquary of 1506 for the skull of St. Stanislav, richly
decorated with precious stones and adorned with beautifully
carved scenes from the life of the saint bishop - a
masterpiece of the Gothic goldsmithery that seldom leaves the
museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Regular ticket price amounts to ten zlotys, i.e. an
equivalent of under three euro, and it allows to see also the
Wawel Cathedral, the royal tombs in its crypts, and the giant
Museum’s postal address is Muzeum Katedralne im. Jana Pawla
II, Wawel 3, 31-001 Krakow, Poland. Phone (+48) 124222643.
Krakow's 500-year-old 'Kmita's
chasuble', a masterpieces of Gothic needlework, is one of
the most treasured exhibits in the Wawel Cathedral's museum.
The city that is Poland's prime tourist attraction and a
must-see in Central Europe.
Arts in Krakow