Optional Memorial of St. Hedwig
Today the Church celebrates and remembers the life of Saint Hedwig, duchess of Silesia, born about 1174, at Castle Andechs, Bavaria.
She was the daughter of Berthold IV, Duke of Merania and his wife, Agnes of Rochlitz. She received her education at the Benedictine convent of Lutzingen in Franconia, where her sister was abbess.
At age 12, she married Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. Soon St Hedwig became actively involved in the administration of her husband’s land, used her influence to the construction of new monastic foundations, and assisted those existent in Silesia.
In years to come, the following monasteries were established: the Cistercian monastery of Leubus and of Heinrichau, the Premonstratensian monastery of St. Vincent, the priory of the Augustinian Canons at Kamenz and Bober. She also brought the Dominican and Franciscan orders to Silesia.
Henry also founded the Hospital of the Holy Ghost at Breslau and the convent of the Cistercian nuns at Trebnitz.
Hedwig and Henry had seven children and after the birth of her last child, they decided to take a vow of chastity before the Bishop of Breslau. Henry died in 1238 and Hedwig made the Abbey of Trebnitz her permanent home.
She continued to devote herself to God and to the work of charity and she was regarded as a saint even then. She died at Trebnitz, 12 or 15 October, 1243, and was canonized by Pope Clement IV in 1267.
In her honor Frederick the Great built in 1773 St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.
Patron: Bavaria; brides; duchesses; death of children; marital problems; Silesia; victims of jealousy; widows.
Symbols: noble lady holding statue of Virgin and Child; noble lady holding a church (symbol of monastery); lady holding pair of shoes under arm.
Prayer for the Feast of Saint Hedwig
O God, Who didst teach blessed Hedwig to renounce the pomps of this world, that, with her whole heart, he might follow the humble way of Thy cross: grant that, through her merits and example, we may learn to trample under foot the perishable delights of this world and by cleaving to Thy cross overcome whatsoever may be opposed to us. Who livest and reignest with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.
Prayer source: Collect for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Picture Source: Public Domain