Also known as Cunegund or Kunigunde, princess (sometimes referred to as "queen") of Malopolska (Little Poland), widow, consecrated virgin of the Poor Clares; b. 1224, Hungary; d. July 24, 1292, Stary Sacz (also Sandeck, Sandecz, or Sandez), Poland.
Kinga was the daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary, Arpad Dynasty, and his wife, Maria, daughter of Emperor Theodorus Lascharis of Constantinople. Among the religious luminaries of her lineage are her sisters, Saint margaret of hungary (d. 1270) and Blessed Jolenta of Hungary (d. 1299); her great-aunt, Queen Saint hedwig of Silesia (d. 1243); her aunt, Saint elizabeth of hungary (1207–31); her uncle, Blessed Ludwig IV of Thuringia (1200–27); and her cousin, Blessed Gertrude of Altenberg (d. 1297).
Kinga's position required her to marry (1239) Boleslaw II, sovereign of Lesser Poland (Krakow, Sandomire, and Lublin). Tradition relates that by mutual consent the couple pledged vows of perpetual continence before their bishop and their marriage was never consummated. Throughout her married life, Kinga continued to engage in prayer, mortification, and personal charity. Her spirituality was influenced by her contemporaries, the Dominican Saint hyacinth (d. 1257) and the Blesseds, Bronislawa (d. 1259), Sadok (d. 1260), and Salomea (d.1268). At Boleslaw's death (1279), Kinga sold her possessions to relieve the poor, then took the veil at Stary Sacz Abbey, which she had built for the Poor Clares.
While Pope Alexander VIII approved Kinga's cultus as a beata in 1690 and she was declared patroness of Poland and Lithuania in 1695, her cause for canonization required reintroduction and her heroic virtues were declared on July 3, 1998. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II at Stary Sacz, Poland, June 16, 1999.
Feast: July 24 (Poland); July 27 (Franciscans).
Bibliography: Blogoslawiona Kinga: zyciorys, zbiór modlitw, ed. j. r. bar (Warsaw 1985). r. pico, Vita della venerabile Cunegonde, reina di Polonia, based on data collected by a. bzowski (Rome 1633). Vita sanctae Kyngae ducissae Cracoviensis (Tarnów 1997).
[k. i. rabenstein]