WEIGEL (Zaluszowska), CATHERINE


WEIGEL (Zaluszowska), CATHERINE (c. 1460–1539), martyr in Poland. Catherine was the wealthy widow of Melchior Weigel, a merchant-patrician and member of the Cracow municipal council. In 1530, at an advanced age, she was accused of Judaizing. She recanted, but in 1539, on further accusation, refused to do so again, and was burned at the stake. According to the chronicler Lukasz Gornicki, as well as eyewitnesses, the 80-year-old woman went to her death courageously. Asked "Do you believe in His [God's] only son, our Lord Jesus Christ?" she said: "God had neither wife nor son, nor does He need this; for only mortals need sons. We are His children … and all who walk in His ways are His children" (Dzieje w Koronie Polskiej (1637), 5). Whether Catherine was a Jewess to the full or a radical anti-Trinitarian, her death made a great impression. On the king's order the heads of the Cracow community were arrested, and a number of Jews fled. The rabbi of the town, the physician Moses Fishel, suffered so much in prison that he died a short time after his release. This event started off a Judaizing scare, and a hunt for proselytes to Judaism which was relentlessly pursued in *Poland-*Lithuania in 1539–40.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M. Balaban, Historja Żydów w Krakowie i na Kazimierzu, 1 (1931), 125–30.

[Arthur Cygielman]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.