St. Hedwiges, or Avoice, Duchess of Poland, Widow
From her exact life extant in Surius, and D’Andilly, Saints Illustr. See also Chromer, Hist. l. 7, 8; Dlugoss, Hist. Polonicæ, l. 6 et 7, and F. Raderus, Bavaria Sancta, t. 1, p. 147.
THE FATHER of this saint was Bertold III. of Andechs, marquis of Meran, count of Tirol, and prince (or duke) of Carinthia and Istria, 1 as he is styled in the Chronicle of Andechs, and in the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. 2 Her mother was Agnes, daughter of the count of Rotletchs. St. Hedwiges had three sisters and four brothers. Her eldest sister, Agnes, was married to Philip Augustus, king of France; Gertrude, the second, to Andrew, king of Hungary, by whom she had St. Elizabeth; the third was abbess of Lutzingen in Franconia. As to her brothers, Bertold died patriarch of Aquileia, and Elebert, bishop of Bamberg: Henry and Otho divided between them their father’s principalities, and became renowned generals. St. Hedwiges, by a distinguishing effect of the divine mercy in her favour, was from her cradle formed to virtue by the example and lessons of her devout mother, and of those that were placed about her. In her infancy she discovered no marks of levity, and all her inclinations were turned to piety and devotion. She was placed very young in the monastery of Lutzingen, in Franconia, and only taken thence, when twelve years old, to marry Henry, Duke of Silesia, descended of the dukes of Glogau in that country; to which match she only consented out of compliance with the will of her parents. In this state, by the fidelity with which she acquitted herself of all her respective duties towards God, her husband, her children, and her family, she was truly the courageous woman described by the wise man, 3 who is to be sought from the utmost boundaries of the earth: making it her study in all things only to please God, and to sanctify her own soul and her household, she directed all her views and actions to this great end. With her husband’s free consent she always passed holydays, fast-days, and all seasons of devotion in continence. She bore her husband three sons, Henry, Conrad, and Boleslas; and three daughters, Agnes, Sophia, and Gertrude. After the birth of her sixth child, she engaged her husband to agree to a mutual vow of perpetual continence, which they made in presence of the bishop of the place; from which time they never met but in public places. Her husband faithfully kept this vow for thirty years that he lived afterwards; during which time he never wore any gold, silver, or purple, and never shaved his beard; from which circumstance he was surnamed Henry the Bearded; and so he is constantly called by Dlugoss, Chromer, and other Polish and German historians. 1 Continue reading