St. Kunigunde (or Kinga) was the daughter of the king of Hungary and a niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. At the age of sixteen, she was married to King Boleslaus V of Poland. She waited until the night of their wedding, according to legend, to reveal that she had vowed herself to God and to a life of celibacy. Fortunately, her husband agreed to honor her wishes, thus earning the title Boleslaus the Chaste.
It was a happy marriage for the next forty years. Kunigunde wore a hair shirt and practiced other forms of mortification. From her personal fortune she endowed many churches, hospitals, and monasteries, and when her husband died, she retired from court and became a Poor Clare in a convent she had established. There she refused any acknowledgment of her former status, and devoted herself to prayer. In time, she became prioress. During an invasion of Tartars, the nuns were forced to flee. When the castle in which they found refuge was besieged, Kunigunde’s prayers were credited with the invaders’ withdrawal. She died on July 24, 1292. In 1999, she was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
A famous Polish legend credits St. Kunigunde with the discovery of a great salt mine in Poland. An underground chapel built in this mine, “St. Kinga’s Chapel”, is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.