St. Adelheid of Burgundy and St. Hedwig of Andechs; Hedwig of Poland

Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua, Padua

In this image St. Adelheid is on the left wearing a crown with a "palisade" of crosses. She holds a scepter in her right hand and a maquette of a church in her left. The crown refers to her status as Empress of the Holy Roman Empire, wife of Otto I. The maquette is probably in recognition of the many monasteries that she founded. She is listed among the ten thousand saints in Watkins but not in Acta Sanctorum or the Roman Martyrology. Her feast is on July 17.

On the right, St. Hedwig of Andechs wears a more modest crown, as Duchess of Silesia. The image gives her a pair of shoes and emphasizes her bare feet. This is a reference to an episode in her vita. Her spiritual adviser saw her going about barefoot in the cold and criticized this as an excess of piety. He gave her a new pair of shoes and ordered her to wear them. The next time he saw her she was again barefoot, apparently an act of disobedience. But she explained that she was wearing the shoes all right, but under her cloak (Acta Sanctorum, October vol. 8, 232). The Roman Martyrology for October 15 lists her thus:

In Cracow, Poland, the natal day Not her birthday but the day she died and was "born again" into Heaven of St. Hedwig, widow, Duchess of the Poles. She was devoted to the service of the poor and was famous for her miracles. Pope Clement IV added her to the roll of the saints. Her feast is celebrated on the following day.

These two saints are also paired as co-patrons of the Church of Saints Hedwig and Adelheid in Adelebsen, Germany.

Another St. Hedwig was a Hungarian royal who was invited by the Poles to be their queen. She then united Poland with Lithuania by marrying its ruler, Duke Jagiello, and thus helped bring about the conversion of the Lithuanian people to Christianity (Farmer, 206). Her feast is on July 17. She appears in some paintings of the mass baptism of the Lithuanians. Her portraits almost always have her with a scepter and a crown similar to St. Adelheid's. There is a particularly fine santo of this saint, known locally as Eduvige Reyna de Polonia in the Church of the Assumption in Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico:

A santo of St. Hedwig of Poland with an unusually large crown and an unusually small scepter. See the description page.

Adelheid is known in English as "Adelaide." Hedwig of Andechs is also known as "Hedwig of Silesia." The name "Hedwig" is German. In Polish it is "Jadwiga" and some references to Queen Hedwig call her Jadwiga AndegaweĊ„ska, "Hedwig the Angevin."

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Both photographs by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.