May 14 is the feast of St. Matilda, the Queen of Germany and wife of Henry I. She was born in Engern, Westphalia, Germany in 895 to Count Detrich and his wife, Reinhild. Raised by her grandmother, an abbess, she entered into an arranged marriage with King Henry the Fowler of Saxony in 909. 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. As queen, Matilda was humble, holy, charitable, and very generous — always ready to help the poor and the down-trodden.
Following her husband’s death, Matilda made an unsuccessful attempt to secure the throne for her favorite son Henry, but his elder brother was elected and crowned in 936. Later, the two brothers joined in persecuting their mother, whom they accused of having impoverished the crown by her lavish almsgiving. To satisfy them, she renounced the possessions the deceased king had left her, and retired to her villa at Engern in Westphalia. Later, when she suffered financial difficulties, Matilda was called back to the palace, and both Otto and Henry asked for her forgiveness.
She built many churches and founded and supported numerous monasteries; she was known for her great charity. She died of natural causes in 968 and was buried in the monastery at Quedlinburg, Germany. Matilda was venerated as a saint immediately after her death.
St. Matilda is the patroness of: disappointing children, falsely accused people, large families, people ridiculed for their piety, queens, second marriages, and widows.
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