St Hedwig was Duchess of Silesia and Poland. She was born in 1174 in Andechs, Bavaria, Germany and died aged 69 on October 15 1243 in Trzebnica Abbey, Silesia, Poland. We celebrate her feast day on October 16 every year in the Catholic Church.
|Saint Hedwig, Religious Biography|
|Date of Birth||1174|
|Place of Birth||Andechs, Bavaria, Germany|
|Profession||Duchess of Silesia and Poland|
|Place of Work||Poland|
|Date of Death||October 15 1243|
|Place of Death||Trzebnica Abbey, Silesia, Poland|
|Feast Day||October 16|
|Canonization||By Pope Clement IV March 26 1267|
|Patron Saint of||
St Hedwig Life History
St Hedwig’s father was Count Berthold IV of Andechs the military commander of Carniola and Istria. Her mother was Agnes of Wettin. They lived at Andechs Castle in the Duchy of Bavaria, Germany.
Her siblings were Agnes, Gertrude, Matilda, Bishop Ekbert of Bamberg, Archbishop Berthold of Kalocsa, and Henry, Margrave of Istria. Her sister Gertrude was the mother of St Elizabeth of Hungary.
When Hedwig was 12 years old, she married Henry I the son of Duke Boleslaus the Tall of Silesia. At this time Henry was 18 years old.
When duke Boleslaus died in 1201, Henry took over his father’s throne but had to contend with power struggles from his relatives.
After many power battles in the Greater Poland, Henry was captured and arrested by a rival duke called Konrad I of Masovia at Płock Castle. It was St Hedwig who successfully went to plead for his release.
These good actions by Hedwig promoted the fame and reign of her husband such that in 1231, after the death of Polish High Duke Władysław III Spindleshanks, Henry became the Duke of Greater Poland and thereafter High Duke at Kraków.
Henry and Hedwig were blessed with seven children namely; Agnes, Bolesław, Henry II the Pious, Konrad the Curly, Sophie, Gertrude, and an unnamed son.
Hedwig and Henry vowed to live a chaste life after the last son was born. Henry tonsured his head and grew a very long beard. They both promoted and facilitated the growth of Christianity in Germany, Poland and throughout central parts of Europe.
Henry died in 1238 and was buried at the Trzebnica Abbey, a Cistercian convent for the nuns that he had been requested to build in 1202 by his wife Hedwig.
Hedwig thereafter entered that same convent that was headed by her daughter Gertrude. She became a lay sister but did not take any vows.
While at the convent, she invited many religious people and investors from Germany and around the Holy Roman Empire to come and settle and invest in the Silesian lands. Many people came, tilled the land and founded many villages, towns, and cities in the whole of Silesia.
After the death of Henry, his son Henry II took over the throne but died in 1241 during the Battle of Legnica when the Mongols invaded Poland. Hedwig and her daughter-in-law, Anna of Bohemia, Henry II wife, established a Benedictine abbey at ground zero where her son was killed.
St Hedwig and her husband Henry lived a very religious and God-fearing life and had a great passion for the Christian faith.
St Hedwig spearheaded the establishment of several convents, monasteries, hospitals, and Churches. She helped the poor, orphans, and widows. Despite her social status, she mingled well with the poor and the lowly. She would even wear the same clothes as the poor in order to be like them.
St Hedwig died on October 15 1243 at the age of 69 years at the Trzebnica Abbey, Silesia, Poland. She was buried next to her husband. Her relics are kept in Berlin at the Andechs Abbey and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral.
St Hedwig Feast Day
St Hedwig was canonized by Pope Clement IV on March 26 1267
Saint Hedwig is the Patron Saint of
- Wrocław City, Poland
- Trzebnica, Poland
- Silesia Region
- Roman Catholic Diocese of Görlitz
- Republic of Poland
- Kraków, Poland
- Brandenburg, Germany
- Berlin, Germany
- Andechs Abbey, Germany
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