Thursday, August 20, 2009

Queen Dagmar of Denmark and Her Cross

Once upon a time, prior to the Reformation, Denmark was Catholic. One reminder of its former Catholicity is the “Dagmar Cross”.

Queen Dagmar, a princess named Margrethe, was born around 1186 in Bohemia, and became the consort of the Danish King Valdemar II ("Valdemar the Victorious"), who reigned from 1202-1241. Dagmar was much loved by the Danish people.

In 1209, Queen Dagmar gave birth to a son, also named Valdemar. In 1212 or 1213, Dagmar died while giving birth to her second son. In 1214, King Valdemar II remarried. Unfortunately, in 1231, Dagmar's first son, Prince Valdemar, was killed in a hunting accident.

Queen Dagmar is buried in St. Bendt's Church in Ringsted, Denmark next to King Valdemar II, whose second wife is buried on his other side.

"St. Bendt" refers to St. Benedict, the great father of western monasticism. The church is the only remaining building of Ringsted Kloster, a Benedictine monastery that was destroyed by fire in the 18th century.

Dagmar's grave was opened in 1690 and she was found to have been buried wearing a Cross that is believed to date to around the year 1000. On one side is a Crucifix. On the other side, Christ is at the center and the four arms of the Cross depict, starting at the top and moving clockwise, St. John Chrysostom, St. John the Evangelist, St. Basil, and Our Lady.

-- Queen Dagmar, St. Bendt's Church detail, from Wikimedia Commons. Some rights reserved.
-- Black and white representation of the Dagmar Cross, also from Wikimedia Commons. In the public domain.
-- Color photograph of Dagmar Cross - From Visit Denmark. There you will find a slide show of St. Bendt's, including the above photograph of the Dagmar Cross and pictures of the church's stunning interior.


Jacqueline Y. said...

Thank you for this post, Marie-Jacqueline. I wear a tiny silver Dagmar cross, and discovered your blog via a google search of Queen Dagmar. I've been a Catholic for roughly 40 years (2/3 of my life), and am one quarter Swedish. I'm looking forward to getting aquainted with your blog.

Matterhorn said...

Lovely post on Queen Dagmar! And thank you for linking to Sword & Sea.

Marie-Jacqueline said...

Jacqueline Y., Thank you for your welcome visit and comment. I am also a Catholic with Scandinavian ancestry, so the Catholic past of Scandinavia is very meaningful to me.

Marie-Jacqueline said...

Matterhorn, Thank you. I'm glad you liked the short post on Queen Dagmar. I am hoping you will do a more detailed one some day. I enjoy Sword & Sea very much. It is one of the few I check every day.


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