Saint Hedwig

Feast day October 16

Saints Stories for All Ages

Hedwig, the daughter of a 12th-century count, was educated in a monastery in Eastern Europe. At age 12, she married Henry I of Silesia, who was 18. In the 1200s, this was the usual age for marriage. The couple had seven children.

Henry succeeded his father to the throne. Henry depended on Hedwig to help him rule. In a war with Conrad of Masovia, Henry was captured. With rare courage, Hedwig persuaded Conrad to return her husband. The gentle queen was loved more for her kindness to those who were poor than for her political undertakings. She founded a hospital for lepers. The doors of her castle were open to travelers and to those who were homeless, sick, and dying. Hedwig went to the cottages of those who were poor, visiting and serving them. Late at night she would darn their clothes. Early in the morning, Hedwig would pray for the kingdom. She did all this while taking good care of her own family. Hedwig also invited religious to build monasteries in the kingdom.

Hedwig suffered when two of her sons disagreed over land given to them by Henry and went to war against each other. She bore this sorrow and the death of her son Henry with patience. The people of her kingdom considered her a living saint.


  • Review the works of mercy. Have the class work together to make a banner of them.

  • Ask the students to cut out articles that tell things that people are doing to help one another, especially those who are poor.

Excerpted from Christ Our Life, by Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio

Image credit: Hedwig of Andechs ends the feud between Henry I of Poland and Konrad I of Masovia by Karmanski, 1864. Public Domain via Wikimedia.