The Saintly Queens

MARCH / APRIL 2016: BY SCARLETT GRANT

queens

This article covers the lives of three pious Queens whose dedication to their people and faith would eventually make them so revered that they would become saints of their respective Christian sects.

Emma of Hawaii (1836-1885)

Fostered by her childless aunt and uncle under Hawaiian tradition, Emma was raised in an English mansion in Honolulu. When she turned twenty, she became engaged to the King of Hawaii, Kamehameha IV. However, at the engagement party, a Hawaiian accused Emma of not being a suitable bride for the King, as she had European ancestry. Emma broke down in tears. Kamehameha was furious, nonetheless they married and had a son, Albert, two years later.

Whilst Queen, Emma was heavily engaged in humanitarian work. One project was establishing a hospital to treat Hawaiians, vulnerable to foreign diseases such as smallpox. Queen’s Hospital was established in 1859. Emma visited patients almost daily; it still stands today but is now called Queen’s Medical Center. Sadly, in 1862 her son Albert died and only a year later the King also passed away.

In between these deaths, Emma was baptized in the Anglican Church. As Queen Dowager, Emma traveled to campaign and raise funds for the building of an Anglican cathedral—St. Andrew’s was finally built in 1867. She also championed education, founding the Saint Andrew’s Priory School for Girls and ‘Iolani School.

After the death of King Lunalilo, Emma decided to run in the election for the new monarch against Kalakaua. While Emma was beloved by the people, the Legislative Assembly who actually elected the monarch chose Kalakaua. After this defeat, Queen Emma retired from public life and died at forty-nine years old in 1885. Both Emma and Kamehameha are honored with a feast day on 28th November within the US Episcopal (Anglican) Church.

Jadwiga of Poland (1373/4 – 1399)

Jadwiga became ruler of Poland at nine years old; despite being female, her title was actually “King of Poland.” It is believed this was to either stop any future husbands from taking the title or stressed that she was a monarch in her own right. According to Polish legends, Jadwiga agreed to marry the Pagan Grand Duke of Lithuania after succumbing to divine inspiration during her long prayers under a crucifix. As part of the marriage treaty, the Grand Duke converted to Christianity.

Jadwiga truly cared about her people. She prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect Poland. Many believe she married the Grand Duke instead of her beloved William of Habsburg as a sacrifice for her country. Jadwiga was known for huge charitable donations. She built hospitals, schools and churches, in addition to restoring previous ones. In her will, she requested her jewelry be sold off and the proceeds go to the University of Krakow. She was highly intelligent and a skilled diplomat; she mediated tensions throughout the region. Sadly, Jadwiga’s life was cut short. After giving birth to her first child, Elizabeth Bonifacia, she never recovered. Jadwiga died shortly after her own baby daughter at the age of twenty-five.

Due to her popularity and piety, Jadwiga was venerated in Poland shortly after her death. Multiple miracles have been told about Jadwiga, which were used to justify her sainthood. One story is that when a young boy drowned, Jadwiga took off her cloak and threw it over his body. The boy came back to life. Pope John Paul II canonized Jadwiga in 1997.

Ketevan the Martyr (1560-1624)

Ketevan was Queen of Kakheti (located in Eastern Georgia). When her husband died only one year into his reign, Ketevan immersed herself in religious building and charity work. But when her brother-in-law killed his father and brother in a bid to usurp the throne, Ketevan rallied the nobles against him and defeated him in battle. She was known for showing her enemies mercy; she ordered wounded enemy soldiers should be treated accordingly and compensated merchants who lost trade as a result of the conflict. Ketevan was an able diplomat, able to negotiate with the Shah of Iran to install her son, Teimuraz, as the King of Kakheti, with herself as regent.

When sent by her son as a negotiator to the Shah, Ketevan surrendered herself as a hostage to prevent an Iranian invasion of Kakheti. She was held by the Shah for several years. In an act of revenge against Teimuraz, he ordered her to renounce Christianity. It is believed the Shah intended to marry Ketevan if she converted; Ketevan refused and was tortured to death with red-hot pincers.

Several of her relics were taken back to Georgia with the aid of missionary witness to her martyrdom; shortly after she was canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Her story was immortalized by her son in his poem; The Book and Passion of Queen Ketevan (1625).

Ketevan is such an important figure for the Georgian people that in recent years there was a hunt for the rest of her remains. In 2013, it is believed they were discovered at the St. Augustine Church, in Goa, India. ♥

marchapril2016

Scarlett Grant is going to be graduating university this year, she is half scared and excited to be entering the real world. In addition to being an amateur history buff she is also interested in music, film and writing.

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