This princess saint was not Harry Potter’s owl: St. Hedwig of Silesia

Catholic News Agency | 10/16/2019 | Staff
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Wrocław, Poland, Oct 16, 2019 / 11:20 am (CNA).- Readers who find this story through a search engine probably were looking for information about Hedwig, Harry Potter’s snowy owl.

St. Hedwig of Silesia was not an owl. But read on anyway: she was a princess, a wife, a mother, and a builder of bridges between the German and Polish people. And her husband’s name was “Henry the Bearded.”

St - Hedwig - Feast - Oct - Century

St. Hedwig, whose feast is Oct. 16, lived in the 13th century and received a good education in her youth at a convent in Bavaria. She is recorded to have said that knowledge plus holiness of life leads to greater glory for souls in heaven.

Hedwig “became known as a helper of poor people and after her canonization, she became a beloved patron saint of the same groups of people,” Bishop Andrzej Siemieniewski, auxiliary bishop of Wroclaw, told CNA.

Family - Hedwig - Sister - Gertrude - Mother

She came from a holy family: Hedwig’s sister Gertrude was the mother of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

While still a girl, Hedwig moved to the lower part of Poland, the region called Silesia, to marry Duke Henry I the Bearded. Together they had seven children, only two of whom lived to maturity.

St - Hedwig - Eucharist - Prayer - Reading

St. Hedwig loved the Eucharist, prayer, and reading and meditating on scripture. In her own household she had scripture read aloud during meal times. Despite her wealth as a duchess, she practiced serious asceticism: she fasted, ate plain food, and lived with few personal possessions.

After her children were grown, Hedwig devoted herself to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, especially helping the poor, sick, hungry, widows, orphans, and expectant mothers.

Princesses - Time - Hedwig - People - Hand

Unlike other princesses of the time, Hedwig helped people with her own hand, and not through her servants. She also gave shelter to sick and disabled people in her castle.

A biographer of Hedwig wrote that the poor...
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