14 Mar Saint Mathilda, Widow
Today is the feast day of Saint Mathilda, Ora pro nobis.
Saint Mathilda (Matildis, Maud) was born at the Villa of Engern in Westphalia, about 895. She was the Queen of Germany and died on March 14, 968. Saint Mathilda was born a noble, the daughter of Theodoric, a powerful Saxon count. Her parents, being sensible that piety is the only true greatness, placed her very young in the monastery of Erford, of which her grandmother Maud was then abbess. She remained in that house till her parents married her to Henry, son of Otho, Duke of Saxony, in 913. (1)
Henry, whose marriage to a young widow, named Hathburg, had been declared invalid, asked for Matilda’s hand, and married her in 909 at Walhausen, which he presented to her as a dowry. Matilda became the mother of: Otto I, Emperor of Germany; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; St. Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, who married Louis IV of France; Hedwig, the mother of Hugh Capet. In 912 Matilda’s husband succeeded his father as Duke of Saxony, and in 918 he was chosen to succeed King Conrad of Germany. As queen, Matilda was humble, pious, and generous, and was always ready to help the oppressed and unfortunate. She wielded a wholesome influence over the king. After a reign of seventeen years, he died in 936. He bequeathed to her all his possessions in Quedlinburg, Poehlden, Nordhausen, Grona, and Duderstadt. (3)
Immediately after Henry died in 936 Matilda called the priest to say Mass for his soul and at the same time took off all the jewels she wore and handed them over to the priest as a pledge that she would give up the things of the world from then on. She lived as a widow for thirty-two years.
During this time she suffered ill-treatment from her son Otto, who was annoyed that in the election for king she favoured his younger brother Henry. Henry, called “the Quarrelsome”, revolted against his brother and also showed himself ungrateful to his mother. Both complained of their mother’s generosity to the Church and to the poor. Matilda resigned her inheritance to her sons, and retired to a convent she had built. She died in 968 at the monastery at Quedlinburg where she had buried Henry, and was interred there with him. (5)
Image: Saint Mathilda (7)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff