Saint Brigid Religious Education
100 Mayflower Street
West Hartford, CT 06110
Duchess of Poland and Widow
Feast day: October 16
Saint Hedwig was the wife of Henry, Duke of Silesia and Poland, and the
mother of six children. To one of her sisters, married to the King of
Hungary, was born the future Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; another was the
wife of Philip-Augustus of France, and the third, Abbess of a celebrated
monastery at Lutzingen.
Saint Hedwig led a humble, austere, and holy life amid all the pomp of
her royal state. While still young, she and her spouse made a solemn vow
of chastity, ratified by their bishop. Her house was a school of piety
and good order; with Duke Henry she built the large monastery of
Trebnitz, where she placed nuns of the Order of Citeaux.
Inspired by these holy examples, the Secretary of State of the Duke and
Duchess left the court and dedicated all his wealth to the construction
of a Cistercian monastery, which he then entered, to spend there the
rest of his life.
Saint Hedwig attended to the needs of all the monasteries and the
hermits of the region, visiting them herself and taking them clothing,
food and all she judged necessary. She visited prisoners and saw that
they did not suffer from the cold or from lack of light. She cared for
the poor and served them herself in her residence. On Holy Thursday she
washed the feet of several lepers, remembering the lessons of Our
Savior. She fasted often and walked barefoot in the snow when she
prayed; she slept on the ground.
Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was the keynote of her life. She
considered it her very great privilege to supply the bread and wine for
the Sacred Mysteries, and each morning would attend as many Masses as
were celebrated. After the death of her husband in 1238, she retired to
the Cistercian convent of Trebnitz, where she lived under obedience to
her daughter Gertrude, abbess of that monastery, growing day by day in
holiness, until God called her to Himself in the year 1243. She was
canonized twenty-four years later, by Pope Clement IV. This Pontiff,
during the ceremony of her canonization, asked God through her
intercession to cure a girl who was blind, and the cure was immediately
effected. Saint Hedwig is buried in the church of Trebnitz.