Sarcophagus of Jagiełło

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Canopy (upper part)

The cover the canopy is a work much newer than the sarcophagus itself, as it was commissioned by King Zygmunt I the Old and was made in the years 1519-1524. It is a work of Bartolomeo Berecci who employed a group of  skilled Italian stonemasons, who worked on the decoration of the chapel of King Zygmunt I (1517-1533). The King’s initiative resulted from his idea to commemorate his ancestor, the founder of the dynasty, a great leader and politician. The iconography of the canopy alludes to antique art, featuring, among other things, panoplions, that is the sets of war trophies.  Two shields feature images of the king shown as a triumphant emperor on a chariot harnessed by a lion. We can guess these were crypto-portraits of Jagiełło, which was clearly explained in an inscription running around the frieze of the canopy, glorifying “the king bathed in the glory of the Prussian victory”, no longer extant. . There is no doubt it refers to  the victory in the battle of  Tannenberg in 1410.


We are all well aware that to enter this Cathedral can not be without emotion. More I say, you can not enter it without the internal tremor, without fear because it contains in it - as in almost no Cathedral of the world - the enormous size, which speaks to us in all our history, our entire past.

cardinal Karol Wojtyla
8 March 1964