Saint Hedwig of Silesia

Hedwig was born in Andechs Castle in the Duchy of Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of Count Berthold IV of Andechs and his second wife Agnes of Wettin. She was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

At the age of twelve, Hedwig was married to Duke Henry of Silesia, the head of the Polish Royal family. As soon as Henry succeeded his father in 1201, he had to struggle with his Piast relatives, at first with his uncle Duke Mieszko IV Tanglefoot who immediately seized the Upper Silesian Duchy of Opole.  In 1229 Henry was captured and arrested at Płock Castle by rivaling Duke Konrad I of Masovia. Hedwig proceeded to Płock pleading for Henry and was able to have him released.

Her actions promoted the reign of her husband: Upon the death of the Polish High Duke Władysław III Spindleshanks in 1231, Henry also became Duke of Greater Poland and the next year prevailed as High Duke at Kraków. In 1238, upon his death, Henry was buried at a Cistercian monastery of nuns, Trzebnica Abbey (Kloster Trebnitz), which he had established in 1202 at Hedwig’s request. Hedwig accepted the death of her beloved husband with faith. She said:

Would you oppose the will of God? Our lives are His.

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