The beloved Queen Dagmar (softly pronounced as Dow-mer with the accent on the first syllable) was born a princess in Bohemia and became the wife of thirteenth-century ruler King Valdemar the Victorious.
In 1205, Dagmar sailed to Ribe from Meissen to marry the Danish King. According to tradition, the day after the wedding, Dagmar received a morning present from Valdemar, but she had not wanted jewelry or other riches. Instead she wanted all prisoners in Valdemar’s prisons released and the high taxes for farmers to be lowered. Valdemar granted both her wishes and Dagmar quickly became a beloved Queen of the people.
Dagmar died seven years later during childbirth. She was just 23 years old. She was buried in Ringsted in St. Bendt’s Church. In 1690, when her gravesite was removed to make way for the tomb of Erik VI (Menved) and his Queen Ingeborg, a small gold cross with detailed enamel work was found on the breast of Queen Dagmar.
The relic cross is of Byzantine design and workmanship. Holy images are featured on the cross. On one side is the Crucifixion. On the other side the half figure of Jesus Christ is in the center, with the Virgin to the left, St. John the Evangelist is on the right, St. Chrysostom is above and St. Basil is below. It’s believed to date from 1000 AD and became known as the Dagmar Cross.
In 1695 the relic cross was donated to the National Gallery of Denmark and is exhibited at the Nationalmuseet National Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen.
Queen Dagmar is still revered in Danish folk ballads by the people of Denmark even today. The Dagmar Cross has become a traditional symbol given as a gift on special occasions such as christenings, confirmation and weddings.