Religious Life

Life of the inhabitants in Kraków was closely connected to the Church and followed strictly the liturgical calendar. The eves of holidays, holidays, anniversaries, patron saint days (of the city, diocese and various crafts) were all solemnly celebrated. Participation in processions, services, funerals, and masses mourning deaths was obligatory. Penance was performed and people tried to obtain indulgences for their sins and strictly observed compulsory fasts. The inhabitants of the city frequently made donations to churches, cloisters, fraternities and hospitals.
Because of the presence of the relics of saints and of the blessed, Kraków became a centre for cults and therefore the destination place for many pilgrimages. Saint Florian (250-304), whose relics were brought from Rome to Kraków in 1184, was the first to be proclaimed the patron saint of the city. The cult of this saint was soon replaced by the cult of bishop Stanislaus (Stanisław) from Szczepanów (1030-1079), canonised in 1253 and in 1594 Jacek Odrowąż (1183-1257), a Dominican monk, buried in Holy Trinity Church, was included among the saints. Moreover, a professor of the Kraków Academy, Jan from Kęty (1390-1473), who was canonised in 1767 became the patron saint of the Academy School.
The most prominent church was the Church of St Mary, the main parish church in Kraków. The burghers of Kraków tried to seize the patronage of the church from the hands of the Kraków bishops and they fought for sermons to be delivered in Polish and this dispute eventually culminated in their success in 1537.
Before the establishment of the city under Magdeburg Law, the Dominican and Franciscan orders were the most important in the city. However, at the end of the 15th century there were a dozen or so religious orders with about 500 members. Many new cloisters were established after the Council of Trent (1545-1563) some congregations carrying out charity work, so necessary in the city: they took care of the poor, sick, crippled and the abandoned; founding hospitals which initially were more rather shelters than hospitals in the present meaning.
Religious fraternities played a significant role in Kraków. Any inhabitant, regardless of his origin, social status, age, sex or wealth, could become their member. Some fraternities had rulers with their families among their members. The fraternities had various devotional profiles and the most common obligations of fraternity members were: participation in common meetings and religious practices, paying fees and performing charitable deeds such as visiting the poor and the sick in prisons and hospitals. In return the members had the right to free funerals, care in the case of illness, financial support in need and, after their death, their memory mourned, by masses celebrated for the souls of the dead.

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