Saint Ladislaus V

Saint Ladislaus’ death and canonization

„Cuius Sanctissimus Corpus in Suo monasterio Varadini devotissime veneratur”
“Whose sacred body was buried in Várad, in his own monastery”
(Chronicon Pictum around 1360)

The unfolding, in the Middle Ages, of the Hungarian and European cult of Saint Ladislaus can be associated with a significant event, namely the relatively premature, unexpected death of the ruler, at the age of 50, in 1095 and his canonization, in 1192 at the request of Béla III and approved by Pope Celestine III. The canonization procedure was led by the papal legate, Cardinal Gregorius de Sancto Apostolo in the cathedral of Várad.

The ruler, honoured across Europe as a promoter of Christian peace, was summoned to lead the Holy Land Crusades, however he could not comply with the request as he suddenly fell ill and departed this life on 29 June, in Nyitra (now Nitra).

 “…he convened the leaders of the country and announced his departure. On hearing the news that the pious king was going to die the people wailed and lamented. The king received the Eucharist, in which he firmly believed, whole heartedly loved and sought with all virtues. He returned to the Lord with serenity. This is how all hope was lost for knights sworn to employ their swords against the enemies of Christ. He was mourned by all Hungarians, priest and the people, the rich and the poor, young men and virgins in dark apparel, no one danced for three years, all musicians and seductive nightingale songs fell silent long past the time of mourning” (Saint Ladislaus legend).

At his request, he was laid to rest in the cathedral of Várad, which he had set up. According to the legend, even his journey was orchestrated from above.

While taking his body to Várad, the men, exhausted from fatigue and grief, fell asleep. Since they spent too much time asleep, the cart carrying his body started out on its own in the direction of Várad without being pulled by animals. When they woke up and saw that the cart was gone they started running in all directions until they came across the cart travelling on its own, carrying the sacred body. On witnessing the miracle of the body being carried by divine power to the chosen burial place, they gave thanks to God and glorified Him” (Saint Ladislaus legend).

 The legend also describes the funeral. Saint Ladislaus’ lifeless body was a balm soothing the souls of those mourning, and miraculous healings commenced already around his coffin. Those who had faith were healed with the help of Saint Ladislaus: the blind regained their sight, the lame could walk again, and those with skin diseases were made clean. These were the events that laid the foundation for the cult of Saint Ladislaus in Oradea, thriving for centuries and still alive today.