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St. Adalbert's Martyrdom

Vojtech better known in Europe under the name Adalbert was born about 956 A.D. in Libice into the family of the Czech Prince Slavnikovic. He was related through his father to the Emperor Otton III, and through his mother to Bolesław Chrobry, the King of Poland. Brought up in Germany, he studied theology in Magdeburg under a spiritual guidance of, and receiyed his name on his confirmation from, Adalbert, the first archbishop of Magdeburg/

He took holy orders in 981 A D. in Prague and in 983 A.D. he became the bishop of Prague, the first of Czech origin. On April 17, 990 he took his vowes at the Benedictine Monastery in Rome, where he met and gained the friendship of Otton tli. He decided to become a missionary and at the beginning of 995 the Pope allowed him to take his mission along the Baitic Coast. His work in Poland, then only recentiy aceepted among Christian countries started in 997.

In April 997 the Bishop, accompanied by his two cofieagues and acting by agreement of Otton Ili and Bolesław Chrobry, set out on his mission to Prussia only to be martyred on April 23, 997 in Święty Gaj near Pasłęk. Two years later Adalbert was canonised.

Saint Adalber's martyrdom added to Bolesław Chrobry's InternationaI diplomatic standing. All Europe appreciated his redemption for gold equal in weight, according to the legend, to the martyr's corpse and its burial ceremony at Gniezno, specially dignified as a CathedraI City. Saint Adalber's posthumous standing spread, enhancing the stature of Bolesław Chrobry who had supported his mission and adding to Połand's identity as a Christian State. 0tton's III pilgrimage to Adalbert's (his friend and confessor) grave was an opportunity to demonstrate Polish wealth and power. The subseguent meeting of the two monarchs in Gniezno (so całled Gniezno Convention) led to Bolesław Chrobry applicatión for his formal coronation as King and the acceptance of Polish sovereignty by the Emperor.

Saint Adalber's grave in Gniezno cathedral is the oldest place of pilgrimage in Poland, and since January 26, 1997, the Saint's Rełics have been on show in St. Adalbert's Church in Warsaw.