Krakowskie znaki pielgrzymie z przedstawieniem św. Stanisława
Pilgrim Badges with the Effigy of St Stanislaus
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Pilgrim badges with the effigy of St Stanislaus were produced in Cracow from ca. mid-13th century. The decision to launch their manufacturing stemmed from the promotion of the cult of the new Saint after his canonization in Assisi on 8 September 1253. To date the existence of seven of such original badges has been confirmed, four having been excavated on archaeological sites in Poland and Bohemia, while the remaining ones come from private Polish and Czech collections. Moreover, the investigation of the Author has allowed to identify three fakes, cast in England in the 20th century from the same matrix on the commission of Stanisław Bełch, of which one has continued to be regarded as a genuine pilgrim badge. Cracow pilgrim badges are probably the oldest among scarce artefacts of the kind produced in the territory of today’s Poland. Despite their low artistic profile, typical of pilgrim badges, when compared with the artefacts of the kind produced in Western Europe, they can boast an exceptionally rich iconographic and epigraphic programme. Their face sides feature the summary of the legend of St Stanislaus’ martyrdom, as known from the Chronicles of Wincenty Kadłubek (Vincentius de Cracovia), and consolidated in the later hagiographic tradition in the Life of the Saint by Wincenty of Kielce (Vincentius de Kielcza). The scene on this side of the badge ranks among the oldest iconographic representations of the Cracow martyr and echoes the scenes on the tympanum reverse in the Church of St Stanislaus at Stary Zamek as well as on the seals of Bishop Prędota and of the Cathedral Chapter of Cracow from the latter half of the 13th century. The badges’ reverse features a poetical inscription which concisely describes the content presented on the face side. The Author demonstrates that it was probably based on the note describing the martyrdom of St Stanislaus, most likely included in the Annals of the Cracow Chapter in ca. 1266. Such a conclusion contradicts the belief, long-established in historiography, that the matrix of the pilgrim badges was created immediately following the canonization of the Cracow martyr in 1253. The analysis of the inscriptions on all the seven preserved genuine badges has allowed for a verification of all the so-far suggested reconstructions, as well as for proposing a new interpretation of the poetic form of the inscriptions.
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