Today the universal Church celebrates not one but two feast days, namely the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the feast of St. Hedwig. Both of these saints are fairly obscure, though between the two St. Margaret Mary is the better known because of her connection to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
But St. Hedwig? Who’s that, the patron saint of male pattern baldness? And who would name their little girl Hedwig in the first place?
But as we take a closer look at the life of a saint, we never cease to be amazed at what God is able to accomplish in those who commit themselves wholeheatedly to Christ.
St. Hedwig was born in 1174 in Bavaria, the daughter of the Duke of Croatia and actually the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She was a lay person. She married Duke Henry of the Polish royal family and they had seven children. During their marriage they built many hospitals and monasteries, and they fostered religious life in the region. After Duke Henry died, Hedwig spent her remaining years at a Cistercian convent founded by Henry, where she lived in obedience to her daughter Gertrude, who was the abbess there.
This brief biographical sketch can’t do justice to the interior holiness and goodness of this woman, who prayed and fasted with intense ardor, and who relentlessly cared for the poor and the sick in the region, giving every last drop of her life in service to God and neighbor.
All-powerful God, may the prayers of Saint Hedwig bring us your help and may her life of remarkable humility be an example to us all. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Hedwig, pray for us!