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Saint of the Day - Saint Mathilda of Saxony (March 14)

Saint Mathilda of Saxony was known as a very holy and virtuous monarch. Born in Prussia, she entered into a politically arranged marriage with King Henry I of Germany. She was the maternal parental unit of several important historical figures, including a saint: Holy Roman Emperor Otto I; Henry, Duke of Bavaria; Saint Bruno, Archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, wife of King Louis IV of France; and Hedwig, mother of Hugh Cape. Yet another amazing saint of the Roman Catholic Church! Join me as we take a glimpse into the life of Saint Mathilda of Saxony.

Image from Used as being in the public domain

Saint Mathilda was the daughter of a Saxon Count named Theodoric. She was born around the year 892. She died on March 14, 968. She was declared a saint during the pre-Congregation for the Causes of Saints days, so there wass no "official" canonization for her. But she has been recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church for well over a Millennium.

She entered into a politically arranged marriage with King Henry I of Germany in 909 (she was around 17). They remained married through his death in 936 (26 or 27 years). Together, they had five children:

  • Otto (912–973), who was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor in 962;

  • Henry (919/22–955), who was appointed Duke of Bavaria in 948;

  • Saint Bruno (925–965), who was elected Archbishop of Cologne in 953 and Duke of Lorraine in 954 (feast day October 6);

  • Hedwig (910 - 965/80), who married the West Frankish duke Hugh the Great; and

  • Gerberga (c. 913 - 968/69 or 984), who first married Gilbert, Duke of Lorraine and later the Carolingian king Louis IV of France.

All of their children had varying degrees of historical importance.

King Henry I died in 936 at Memleben. He was buried at Quedlinburg. The same year, Saint Mathilda opened a convent there. She lived in the Quedlinburg Abbey for a number of years and took care of the memorialization of her family there. Because of this, it became the most important center of prayer and memorialization of the dead in the East Franconian Empire. She founded several other convents including one in 947 at Enger. The last convent she founded was at Nordhausen in 961.

Saint Mathilda had received her dowry from her husband in 929. She used it to found convents, build churches and give alms to the poor. This caused more than a little bit of strife between her and her son, King Otto I, during the decade from 936 to 946. Otto made a claim for his mother's possessions, leaving her no choice but to escape to exile. During Saint Mathilda's absence from the court, many bad things happened to Otto in terms of economical health and success (or the lack thereof) in battles. She was invited to return to the court in 946, a deal which appears to have been brokered by Otto's wife, Queen Eadgyth. After peace was made between Saint Mathilda and King Otto I, life improved.

Because of concerns that he son would again claim her possessions, Saint Mathilda sought to protect her goods and property by acquiring papal privileges for all of the monasteries in Saxony which she had founded. Nonetheless, the efforts were largely ignored when the wife of Otto II, Theophanu, gained control of Saint Mathilda's dowry.

On March 14, 968, Saint Mathilda died at Quedlinburg following a long illness. She was buried next to her husband in Quedlinburg Abbey.


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