Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

( Polish Krakow ; Latin Cracoviensis ).

The Prince-Bishopric that comprises the western portion of Galacia in Austria, and borders on the diocese of Kielce in Russian Poland, Breslau in Prussia, Tarnow in Galacia, and Zips in Hungary.

It has long been disputed at what time the Diocese of Cracow was created. It was already in existence in the year 1000; for at that time, Poppo, its bishop, was made a suffragan to Radzym (the Latin St. Gaudentius ) the first Archbishop of Gnesen ( Thietmar, Chronicon, IV, in P.L. CXXXIX, 1226). Fr. Augustine Arndt, S.J. (Zeitschrift für kath. Theologie, XIV, 45-47, Innsbruck, 1890) adduces some reasons in support of the opinion that the Diocese of Cracow was founded by the Polish King Mieceslaw I as early as 984, and that Poppo, who had ben tutor to Duke Henry of Bavaria until 983, became its first bishop, but most authorities agree that it was not created until 1000 or shortly before. There are extant five lists of the bishops of Cracow. The oldest was complied about 1266 (Mon. Germ. Hist.: Script, XIX, 608), the second before 1347 (Mon. hist. Polon, III, 801); the others are of a later date. During the invasion of the Bohemians in 1039, and the succeeding period of anarchy, all ecclesiastical documents were lost, and the names and the dates of the bishops of Cracow, up to Bishop Aaron (1046-1059) are very unreliable. Prochorus and Proculpus, who are mentioned in the lists as predecessors of Poppo, are entirely legendary. Three of the bishops of Cracow are publicly venerated : St. Stanislaus Szczepanowski (1072-1079), who suffered martyrdom at the hands of King Boleslaw, canonized in 1253, patron of Poland, and of the Dioceses of Cracow and Posen; Blessed Vincent Kadlubeck , (108-1214), the earliest Polish historian of Poland, resigned his see and entered the Cistercian monastery of Jedrzejow in 1218, died 8 March, 1223, beatified 1764; John Prandotha (1242-1266), who drove the heretical Flagellants from his diocese, and was venerated until the seventeenth century, when his veneration ceased, owing to a misinterpretation of the Bull "De cultu servorum Dei", issued by Urban VII, 5 July, 1634. Other renown bishops were: Matthæus (1143-1165) a historian; Zbigniew Olesnicki (1423-1455), a great statesman and fearless opponent of the Hussites, created cardinal in 1439; and George Radziwill (1591-1600), founder of seminaries and hospitals.

Originally the diocese of Cracow seems to have comprised the towns of Sandomir, Cracow, and Lublin, and the castellanies of Sieradz, Spicimir, Rozpoza, Lenczyc, and Wolborg; but its area underwent various changes. From the year 1443 to 1795 the bishops of Cracow were at the same time sovereign dukes of Severia, a territory situated between Silesia and Cracow. Before the first partition of Poland in 1772 the Diocese of Cracow composed the whole of Little Poland, Sieradz, a large portion of Silesia, and part of the present Diocese of Zips (Scepusium). In 1772 it lost its territory south of the Vistula (Dioecesis Cisvistulana), which in 1783 constituted the new Diocese of Tarnow. In 1790 the new Diocese of Lublin and in 1805 the new Diocese of Kielce were severed from its remaining territory. Pope Pius VII made Cracow an exempt diocese in 1815 and restored to it a portion of the Diocese of Kielce in 1817, which portion, however, was returned to Kielce in 1846, so that then the Diocese of Cracow was confined to the city Cracow and two deaneries south of the Vistula. From 1871 to 1879 the diocese was ruled by administrators. Under Albin Dunajewski, who became bishop in 1879, it was somewhat enlarged toward the south, in 1880, and again in 1886. In 1889 it was made a prince-bishopric, and a year later, Prince-Bishop Dunajewski was raised to the cardinalate. John Puzyna de Koziel was made Prince- Bishop of Cracow in 1895, and Anatole Nowak auxiliary bishop in 1900. The diocese numbers 197 parishes, 181 vicariates, 457 diocesan and 223 regular priests, 850,000 Catholics 4000 Protestants, and 60,000 Jews. The Emperor of Austria has the privilege of appointing the prince-bishop after consulting with the bishops of Galacia. The cathedral chapter includes 3 prelates (dean, scholasticus, and custos ) and 6 canons. The most important educational institution in the diocese is Cracow University (Uniwersitet Jagiellonski), founded by Casmir the Great in 1364 and approved by Pope Urban V the same year. The diocese also has an ecclesiastical seminary, various colleges, and minor institutions of learning. The cathedral of Cracow is one of the most venerable structures in Europe. Here lie buried most of the Polish kings, the two national heroes, Kosciuszko, and Poniakowski, the greatest Polish poet, Mickiewicz, and many other noble sons of Poland ; here also are preserved the relics of St. Stanislaus (see above). It is of Gothic architecture , originally built probably by Mieceslaw I about 966, where now stands the church of St. Michael and where St. Stanislaus suffered martyrdom ; rebuilt on its present site by Ladislaus Herman, King of Poland (1083-1102); restored by Nanker Oksza, Bishop of Cracow (1320-1326); rebuilt in the eighteenth century in borocco style; and renovated from 1886-1901. It contains the beautiful chapel of Sigmund, the best specimen of Renaissance style in Eastern Europe, built by Bartolommeo da Firenze in the sixteenth century and renovated in 1894. The Church of St. Mary, a Gothic structure built 1226-1397 and restored in the fourteenth century, has on its high altar a large Gothic wood carving representing the death of the Virgin Mary, the masterpiece of Veit Stoss .

The chief charitable institution is the Archconfraternity of Mercy, founded by Jesuit Peter Skargo (d. 1618), which distributes arms to the poor, and is the owner of a monte-de-piété . There are also: another monte-de-piété , an asylum for old men and women, three orphan asylums, and insane asylum, various hospitals and workhouses. All these establishments are subject to the diocesan authorities. The Catholic press is represented by two dailies, two weeklies edited by priests, three monthlies published by religious, and two monthly magazines of high literary standard. They are all in Polish.

The following religious orders and congregations of men are engaged in parish, educational, or charitable work: Augustinians, Brothers of Mercy, Camaldolese, Canons Regular of the Lateran, Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, Carmelites, Discalced Carmeli tes (2 houses), Capuchans, Cistercians (Abbey of Mogila), Conventual Franciscans, Observant Franciscans (here called Bernadines; 3 houses), Reformed Franciscans (3 houses), Dominicans, Hermits of St. Paul, Jesuits (2 houses), Lazarists (3 houses). Piarists, Resurrectionists, Salesians, Servite Tertiaries, Ursulines, Sisters of St. Albert, Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo, Sisters of St. Felix, Sisters of the Holy Family, Sisters of the Mother of Mercy, Sisters of Nazareth, Sisters of the Presentation, Vincentian Sisters, Servants of the Sacred Heart of Jesus .


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Consider, brothers, how you were called; not many ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 33:12-13, 18-19, 20-21
12 How blessed the nation whose God is Yahweh, the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 25:14-30
14 'It is like a man about to go abroad who summoned ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2014 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, was probably a ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter