Hospital of the Holy Spirit, Biecz

Szpital św. Ducha

The hospital of the Holy Spirit was an ecclesiastical institution and, at the same time, Saint Queen Jadwiga's greatest gift to Biecz, funded by her and the city councillors (rajcy) in 1395. Until the 19th century, numerous donors bequeathed their assets to the hospital, making it one of the best-equipped hospitals in Poland. The current building was probably built in the 15th century. It has a 21 x 10.5 m rectangular floor plan. It was not a hospital in today's sense of the word but rather a shelter for the poor, which is connected to the Christian idea of mercy. In the early 15th century, to serve the hospital, the Church of the Holy Spirit was built directly near to it. By order of the Austrian Emperor Joseph II, the hospital church was closed in the second half of the 18th century. In the following years it fell into disrepair and was finally dismantled in the second half of the 19th century. The Holy Spirit Hospital survived all of history's storms until 1950, when the foundation was nationalised and the land given to the hospital by medieval Polish rulers was taken over by the state, the Polish People's Republic. The building served as a boarding house until the 1980s. St. Queen Jadwiga, born in 1374, was the third and youngest daughter of Louis the Hungarian (Ludwik Węgierski) and Elizabeth of Bosnia (Elżbieta Bośniaczka). Her great-grandfather was Władysław Łokietek and she was related to St. Louis, bishop of Toulouse. She became the queen of Poland in 1384. In 1386, she married Władysław Jagiełło. This marriage resulted in the creation of the largest state in Europe at the time. Thanks to her, the Kraków Academy was renovated and renamed  Jagiellonian University. She stayed in Biecz many times, and the city became royal property in 1311. In 1393, Queen Jadwiga, at the request of Biecz's councillors (rajcy) issued a document confirming that the city has been granted Magdeburg rights by Kazimierz the Great in 1363. Queen Jadwiga died in 1399. She was famous for her kindness and her sympathy for impoverished  and suffering people. In 1997 she was canonised by John Paul II in Kraków.


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