VIDEO REPORT: A tune for Our Lady and a city

The Church of St. Mary stands in Krakow. (CR/George P. Matysek Jr.)

KRAKOW – At the top of every hour of every day, a trumpeter climbs to the top of a tower at St. Mary’s Church in Krakow to sound a hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Known as the “Hejnal,” the tribute is played four times in four different directions.

If you listen closely, you will notice that the call is abruptly cut short mid-note. The unexpected break recalls a 13th-century trumpeter who is said to have repeatedly sounded the Hejnal to warn the townspeople of an invasion of Tatar warriors. As the galloping cavalry approached Krakow, the invaders directed their arrows at the trumpeter – striking him in the throat and silencing the alarm. The trumpeter lost his life, but saved his city.

Today, the playing of the Hejnal is a much-loved tradition among the Polish people. The noontime edition of the trumpet call has been broadcast live on Polish radio since 1927.

A group of pilgrims from Baltimore got to hear the often-repeated melody during a recent visit to the former Polish capital. They even got a wave from the trumpeter. Check it out below.

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About George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore. View all posts by George P. Matysek Jr.

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