A Duchess of Poland, she was born in Andechs in Bavaria around 1174. She was an aunt to St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Her parents were Berthold and Agnes of Moravia. From childhood, she was remarkable for her self-control. At the age of twelve, she was given in marriage to Henry I, Duke of Silesia in Poland. She bore him seven children and made the family a model of religion according to the medieval pattern of prayers and penance. All her thoughts and actions were directed to please God and to sanctify her own soul and household. In order to more freely serve God, Hedwig persuaded her husband to make a vow of chastity, which they made in the presence of the bishop. Thirty years after the tragic death of her husband, she was inspired by God to take the Cistercian Habit at the monastery of Trzebnica, and lived in obedience to her daughter, Gertrude, who was then Abbess.

St. Hedwig was a model of the highest religious perfection. She undertook menial offices, and waited upon the poor. She founded a hospital to care for the poor and sick, and served as the mother of the unfortunates. Her patience and strength of soul were admirable. This was most conspicuous at the death of her son, Henry, Duke of Silesia, when he was killed in a battle against the Tartars who invaded Poland in 1241. She was noted for her miraculous power. She died on October 14, 1243 and was buried on October 16th. Shortly after her death, Pope Clement IV enrolled her among the Saints on March 26, 1267. She is honored as Patroness of Silesia, Poland, our St. Hewig Community and many other places where churches are dedicated in her name. St. Hedwig, whose feast we celebrate in October continues inspiring the faithful of all times by her faith and selfless involvement in the Church and in the world of her day. Today, it is these Christ-committed, consecrated ones that the world turns to for inspiration and the hope we need to persevere in our challenging times.

On St. Hedwig’s feast day, October 16, 1987, Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope. He chose the name John Paul II and named her as the Patroness of his Papacy. Following his example, we continue to call on her spiritual help so we can make ourselves presentable to the Lord as they did. It gives us great confidence to be linked to these two great servants of God.