When walking past Warsaw’s Old Town and the Church of Our Lady of Grace, you’ll find a small statue that does not seem fit the setting. It’s a statue of a bear, seemingly asleep on the church porch.
This statue is said to be of Prince Mieszko, an adopted prince of Janusz I who was found in a bear’s den during a hunting trip. The legend says that as a todder, he protected the bear and her cubs from being shot by putting himself between the animals and the hunters, a brave move that convinced Janusz I’s family to adopt the child as their own.
The young prince was raised with love and care and learned the ways of the court, but he never quite got over his wild nature and remained close to the forest. It’s said he was bad with people, especially women, until he met the woman he fell in love with.
The woman, Jadwizka, allegedly had the face of an angel, and Mieszko told himself that he would marry her or die. The two liked each other and it seemed that the union was about to happen. But unfortunately for Mieszko, he was summoned into service and had to leave the city for a few months.
When Mieszko returned, he looked for a nice place to hold a wedding and entered the church in the Old Town. To his astonishment, he found Jadwizka in the church, marrying someone else against her will. This broke Mieszko’s heart, nearly killing him.
Luckily, a witch was walking past and saved him by turning him into a stone bear. Mieszko is destined to remain in his stoney slumber until his true love comes and kisses the statue.
Know Before You Go
The statue is freely accessible.