Patron Saints for Girls – Saint Matilda

[Saint Matilda] Matilda was daughter of Thierri, a petty prince of considerable importance in Saxony. Brought up in the cloister under the eyes of her aunt, abbess of Enford, she at an early period tasted all the sweetness of prayer and penance.

Matilda grew up in the cloister, and gladly would she have spent her whole life there, had it not pleased Providence to ordain otherwise. She was torn from her retreat, and married to Henry, son of Otho, Duke of Saxony. Three years after this marriage, Henry, having lost his father, succeeded to his title, and four years after this event, he succeeded Conrad, King of Germany.

Henry proved to Matilda that she had found in him an excellent spouse. His piety and courage won him the respect of his subjects, who looked on him as a father. He was engaged in war against the Hungarians and Danes, and whilst her husband was in the camps, Matilda devoted herself to exercises of piety, visiting the sick and consoling the afflicted.

Meanwhile death arrested Henry’s career. He died of apoplexy, after having reigned seventeen years. Matilda resigned herself to God’s will, and, after assisting at the Holy Sacrifice offered for the repose of his soul, she divested herself of all her sumptuous ornaments, and laid them down on the altar of the Most High. She was the mother of three children, Otho, Henry, and Bruno; the former, who succeeded his father, was crowned emperor at Rome in 962. Henry was Duke of Bavaria, and Bruno became Archbishop of Cologne.

Many and terrible were the conflicts that preceeded Otho’s coronation. The crown being elective, Henry disputed it, and Matilda, urged by an unjustifiable predilection, declared in favor of the latter. This conduct of the queen-mother kindled discord between the two brothers. Matilda had committed a great error, but God made her atone for it, by the serious trials He sent to her. Her two sons, Otho and Henry, leagued against her, and stripped her of her dowry, alleging that she had impoverished the state by her alms-giving.

Matilda submitted, without murmuring, to the decrees of Providence, and patiently bore the injuries inflicted on her by her own children. The persecution was long and cruel. At length the two sons grew ashamed of themselves, became reconciled to their mother, and restored the dowry to her.

Once more possessed of her property, she devoted it all to the poor. She founded five monasteries and many churches, and she frequently resorted to them all to hold sweet communion with her God. Thither, likewise, came vast multitudes of rich and poor, to be instructed in all the practical duties of a Christian’s life.

Matilda was surprised by death in the midst of those holy occupations. She was then in the monastery of Quedlinbourg. In the presence of the whole community she made a public confession of her sins, and, stretched upon ashes, she received the last sacraments from the hands of William, Archbishop of Mayence, who was her nephew. She died 14 March 968.

Happy is she who, like Saint Matilda, despises the transitory glories and pleasures of this life for the kingdom of God. Oh, truly happy is she who sets the right value on the fallacious joys of this world, and tramples on them all, for purity of heart, charity, love of penance, and good works, which makes a diadem for a Christian’s head.