mercredi 14 mars 2012

Sainte MATHILDE de SAXE, impératrice


SAINTE MATHILDE

Impératrice d'Allemagne

(+ 968)

Sainte Mathilde eut pour ancêtre et pour descendants des princes remarquables, des héros fameux et de grands saints. Elle naquit dans les dernières années du IXe siècle.

Sa mère, après la mort de son époux, quitta le monde et entra dans un monastère. Mathilde fut élevée par des religieuses, sous les yeux maternels. Cette éducation produisit des fruits merveilleux, et l'on ne savait ce qu'il fallait admirer davantage en elle de sa beauté, de ses progrès dans les sciences ou de son habileté dans les travaux de son sexe.

Le duc Othon de Saxe, ravi de tant de belles qualités, rehaussées par une piété rare, la demanda en mariage pour son fils Henri, qui, peu d'années après, devenait empereur d'Allemagne, sous le nom d'Henri Ier. Ce prince était digne d'une telle épouse. Rarement époux eurent une si noble famille: Othon, leur fils aîné, devint empereur et mérita le titre de Grand; Brunon fut archevêque de Cologne, et l'Église l'a mis au rang des saints; une de leur filles fut reine de France. Mais la gloire de Mathilde, c'est avant tout sa sainteté.

Dieu rompit bientôt les liens de ce mariage, dont l'amour divin était l'âme et dont les saintes oeuvres étaient la joie; Henri mourut, jeune encore, malgré les soins dévoués de sa sainte épouse, et sa mort fut pour Mathilde l'objet d'une longue et profonde douleur. Dès lors le monde ne fut plus rien pour elle, et elle ne s'occupa que de sa sanctification.

L'oraison, les jeûnes, l'aumône, la mortification, remplirent sa vie, et les nuits suppléaient à la brièveté des jours pour prolonger ses colloques intimes avec Jésus-Christ. Elle avait coutume de réciter tout le Psautier avant le premier chant du coq. Les pauvres recevaient ses premières et ses dernières visites; elle savait si bien suffire à toutes leurs nécessités, qu'ils n'avaient qu'une voix pour l'appeler leur mère.

L'épreuve est le creuset de la vertu. L'empereur, prévenu contre sa mère, l'exila; mais ce coup douloureux, qu'elle supporta avec une angélique patience, fut bientôt suivi d'une éclatante réparation.

Peu de temps avant sa mort, Mathilde se retira dans un couvent pour se préparer à la mort. On la vit descendre au rang des simples religieuses, remplir avec joie les plus viles fonctions, et donner à toute la communauté l'exemple d'une régularité parfaite. Elle mourut couchée sur un cilice recouvert de cendres, le 14 mars 968.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950.

SOURCE : http://magnificat.ca/cal/fr/saints/sainte_mathilde.html


Chromolithographie tirée de « La Vie des Saints d’après les anciens manuscrits de tous les siècles », Henry de Riancey, éd. F. Kellerhoven, Paris – 1866


Sainte Mathilde

Fille du comte Dietrich de Westpalie et de la comtesse Reinhilde du Danemark, alors qu'elle est encore une enfant, elle est confiée aux soins de sa grand-mère, devenue après son veuvage abbesse du couvent d’Erfort. En 913, son éducation étant achevée, elle quitte le monastère pour épouser Henri, le fils du duc Othon de Saxe. De cette union naissent cinq enfants : Othon le Grand, empereur d’Allemagne, Henri, duc de Bavière, saint Brunon, archevêque de Cologne et duc de Lotharingie, Gerberge, qui épousera le roi Louis d’Outremer, et Hedwige, qui épousera Hugues le Grand, comte de Paris (les futurs parents d’Hugues Capet). En 919, son époux Henri accède au trône et sait se faire apprécier de ses sujets. Mathilde, pour sa part, consacre une grande partie de son temps à la prière et au secours des pauvres, mais devient veuve en 933. Ses deux fils aînés (Othon et Henri) s'affrontent alors pour gagner la couronne (qui est alors élective), et Mathilde prend le parti d'Henri. C'est cependant Othon qui accède au pouvoir. Les deux frères se réconcilient et se liguent contre leur mère, qu'ils dépouillent de tous ses biens avant de l'obliger à quitter la cour. Elle se réfugie dans la solitude dans la ville d’Engern, en Westphalie durant quelques années. Après avoir été gravement malade, Henri demande pardon à sa mère pour le mal qu'il lui a fait, lui restitue tous ses biens et l'invite à revenir à la cour. Elle se consacre alors entièrement aux bonnes œuvres, et fonde monastères et églises. Elle meurt en 968.

SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/03/14/5595/-/sainte-mathilde

Sainte MATHILDE

Fille du comte Dietrich (Thierry) de Westpalie et de la comtesse Reinhilde du Danemark. Alors qu'elle est encore une enfant, son père la confie aux soins de sa grand-mère, devenue abbesse du couvent d’Erfort après être devenue veuve. En 913, son éducation étant achevée, elle quittele monastère pour épouser Henri, le fils du duc Othon de Saxe (+ 895). De cette union naissent cinq enfants : Othon le Grand, empereur d’Allemagne, Henri, duc de Bavière, Saint-Brunon, archevêque de Cologne et duc de Lotharingie, Gerberge, qui épouse le roi Louis d’Outremer, et Hedwige, qui épouse Hugues le Grand, comte de Paris (les futurs parents d’Hugues Capet). En 919, Henri accède au trône et sait se faire apprécier de ses sujets. Mathilde, pour sa part, consacre une grande partie de son temps à la prière et au secours des pauvres, mais devient veuve en 933. Ses deux fils aînés (Othon et Henri) s'affrontent alors pour gagner la couronne (qui est alors élective), et Mathilde prend le parti d'Henri. C'est cependant Othon qui accède au pouvoir. Les deux frères se réconcilient et se liguent contre leur mère, qu'ils dépouillent de tous ses biens avant de l'obliger à quitter la cour. Elle se réfugie dans la solitude dans la ville d’Engern, en Westphalie durant quelques années. Après avoir été gravement malade, Henri demande pardon à sa mère pour le mal qu'il lui a fait, lui restitue tous ses biens et l'invite à revenir à la cour. Elle se consacrer alors entièrement aux bonnes œuvres, en plus de fonder cinq monastères et plusieurs églises. Elle décède au cours d'une visite qu'elle effectuait au couvent de Quedlimbourg (890-968) Sainte-Mathilde est la patronne des familles nombreuses. Elle est invoquée pour venir en aide aux parents qui sont en conflit avec leurs enfants.

SOURCE : http://www.saint-dicton.com/

Sainte Mathilde eut pour ancêtres et pour descendants des princes remarquables, des héros fameux et de grands Saints. Elle naquit dans les dernières années du IXe siècle.

Sa mère, après la mort de son époux, quitta le monde et entra dans un monastère avec sa toute petite fille ; c’est là que sainte Mathilde fut élevée par des religieuses, sous les yeux maternels. Cette éducation produisit des fruits merveilleux, et l’on ne savait ce qu’il fallait admirer davantage en elle de sa beauté, de ses progrès dans les sciences ou de son habileté dans les travaux délicats de son sexe.

Le duc Othon de Saxe, ravi de tant de belles qualités, rehaussées par une piété rare, la demanda en mariage pour son fils Henri, qui peu d’années après devenait empereur d’Allemagne, sous le nom d’Henri Ier. Ce prince était digne d’une telle épouse. Rarement époux eurent une si noble famille : Othon, leur fils aîné, devint empereur et mérita le titre de Grand ; Brunon fut archevêque de Cologne, et l’Église l’a mis au rang des Saints ; une de leurs filles fut reine de France l’autre épousa Hugues Capet. Mais la gloire de sainte Mathilde, c’est avant tout sa sainteté.

Dieu rompit bientôt les liens de ce mariage, dont l’amour divin était l’âme et dont les saintes œuvres étaient la joie ; Henri mourut jeune encore, malgré les soins dévoués de sa sainte épouse, et sa mort fut pour sainte Mathilde l’objet d’une longue et profonde douleur. Dès lors le monde ne fut plus rien pour elle, et elle ne s’occupa que de sa sanctification. L’oraison, les jeûnes, l’aumône, la mortification, remplirent sa vie, et les nuits suppléaient à la brièveté des jours pour prolonger ses colloques intimes avec Jésus-Christ. Elle avait coutume de réciter tout le Psautier avant le premier chant du coq.

Les pauvres recevaient ses premières et ses dernières visites ; elle savait si bien suffire à toutes leurs nécessités, qu’ils n’avaient qu’une voix pour l’appeler leur mère. L’épreuve est le creuset de la vertu. Dieu en ménagea une grande à sa servante, dans l’exil que lui imposa l’empereur son fils, prévenu contre elle ; mais ce coup douloureux, qu’elle supporta avec une angélique patience, fut bientôt suivi d’une éclatante réparation.

Peu de temps avant sa mort, sainte Mathilde se retira dans un couvent pour se préparer à la mort. On la vit descendre au rang des simples religieuses, remplir avec joie les plus viles fonctions, et donner à toute la communauté l’exemple d’une régularité parfaite. Elle mourut couchée sur un cilice recouvert de cendres, le 14 mars 968, Jean XIII étant pape et Othon Ier le Grand empereur romain germanique et Lothaire roi de France, disant ces belles paroles : « C’est ainsi qu’une Chrétienne doit mourir ».

SOURCE : http://www.cassicia.com/FR/Vie-de-sainte-Mathilde-imperatrice-d-Allemagne-Fete-le-14-mars-Epouse-d-Henri-Ier-empereur-mere-d-Othon-Ier-le-Grand-empereur-et-de-saint-Brunon-No_1248.htm

Sainte Mathilde

reine d'Allemagne ( 968)

ou Maud. 

Épouse heureuse d'Henri l'Oiseleur, roi de Germanie, elle eut beaucoup à souffrir de ses deux fils après la mort de son mari. Othon, le premier empereur de Germanie, lui reprochait ses libéralités pour les pauvres et les monastères sous le prétexte qu'elle ruinait le pays. Elle pacifia ces querelles puis s'en remit à la paix de la vie monastique des moniales bénédictines en Saxe. Elle et son mari s'étaient beaucoup aimés pendant les vingt années de leur mariage, aussi demanda-t-elle à être transportée là où il était enterré, afin de reposer près de lui.

À Quedlinbourg en Saxe, l’an 968, sainte Mathilde. Épouse très fidèle de Henri, roi de Prusse, remarquable par son humilité et sa patience, elle fut très généreuse pour soulager les pauvres et construire des asiles de vieillards et plusieurs monastères. Dépouillée de ses biens par sa fille, elle se retira au monastère de Quedlinbourg pour achever sa vie dans la prière et la pénitence.

Martyrologe romain



Mathilde est un nom d'origine germanique qui signifie "force" (maht) et "combat" (hild). 

Maud vient du celte "bon" (mad). 

Reine de Germanie au Xe siècle, fille de Thierry de Saxe, Mathilde épousera Henri l'Oiseleur qui devint roi de Germanie. Il mènera une politique de grande taille, déjà européenne ! Il impose son autorité en Souabe et en Bavière, réintègre la Lorraine dans la mouvance germanique et tient en échec Slaves et Hongrois. Pendant que son époux guerroie, Mathilde élève leurs enfants. L'aîné Otton sera empereur d'Allemagne et roi d'Italie, premier titulaire du saint empire romain germanique. Henri devient roi de Bavière et leur soeur Edwige sera la mère de Hugues Capet, premier roi de France.
 
Pauvre reine Mathilde ! Excellente mère, elle avait toutefois un faible pour son second fils, Henri. L'aîné, Otton, lui en tenait rancune. Après la mort du roi Henri, il se mit d'accord avec son frère pour dépouiller leur mère de son douaire et la reléguer dans un couvent en Westphalie. Mathilde fut sauvée dans sa douleur par sa foi en la Providence. Aux princes et aux prélats venant la plaindre, elle répondait : "Mes enfants sont pour moi l'instrument de la volonté de Dieu : qu'Il soit béni et les bénisse". Les fils ingrats finiront par rendre à leur mère sa liberté et ses biens. Mathilde dépensa tout en créant des oeuvres de charité pour les pauvres et les malheureux, ainsi que nombre d'églises et de monastères en Allemagne de l'Ouest. On disait d'elle : "Personne ne venait à elle dolent (malheureux) qui ne repartit joyeux". La généreuse Mathilde, devenue veuve, achève sa vie en simple religieuse à Northausen le 14 mars 968.

Rédacteur : Frère Bernard Pineau, OP



St. Matilda

Queen of Germany, wife of King Henry I (The Fowler), born at the Villa of Engern in Westphalia, about 895; died at Quedlinburg, 14 March, 968. She was brought up at the monastery of Erfurt. 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 ofGermany; 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.


It was the king's wish that his eldest son, Otto, should succeed him. Matilda wanted her favourite son Henryon the royal throne. On the plea that he was the first-born son after his father became king, she induced a few nobles to cast their vote for him, but Otto was elected and crowned king on 8 August, 936. Three years laterHenry revolted against his brother Otto, but, being unable to wrest the royal crown from him, submitted, and upon the intercession of Matilda was made Duke of Bavaria. Soon, however, the two brothers joined inpersecuting 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 bequeathed to her, and retired to her villa at Engern in Westphalia. But afterwards, when misfortune overtook her sons, Matilda was called back to the palace, and both Otto and Henry implored her pardon.

Matilda built many churches, and founded or supported numerous monasteries. Her chief foundations were themonasteries at Quedlinburg, Nordhausen, Engern, and Poehlden. She spent many days at these monasteriesand was especially fond of Nordhausen. She died at the convents of Sts. Servatius and Dionysius at Quedlinburg, and was buried there by the side of her husband. She was venerated as a saint immediately after her death. Her feast is celebrated on 14 March.

Sources

Two old Lives of Matilda are extant; one, Vita antiquior, written in the monastery of Nordhausen and dedicated to the Emperor Otto II; edited by KOEPKE in Mon. Germ. Script., X, 575-582, and reprinted in MIGNE, P.L., CLI, 1313-26. The other, Vita Mahtildis reginae, written by order of the Emperor Henry II, is printed in Mon. Germ. Script., IV, 283-302, and in MIGNE, P.L., CXXXV, 889-9220. CLARUS, Die heilige Mathilde, ihr Gemahl Heinrich I, und ihre Sohne Otto I, Heinrich und Bruno (Munster, 1867); SCHWARZ, Die heilige Mathilde, Gemahlin Heinrichs I. Konigs von Deutschland (Ratisbon, 1846); Acta SS., March, II, 351-65.

Ott, Michael. "St. Matilda." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 14 Mar. 2016<http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10049a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Michael T. Barrett. Dedicated to Hester Matilda Laird.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10049a.htm


St. Matilda was born about 895, the daughter of a German count. When she was still quite young, her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman named Henry. Soon after their marriage, Henry became king of Germany. As queen, Matilda lived a simple lifestyle with times for daily prayer.

Everyone who saw her realized how good and kind she was. She was more like a mother than a queen. She loved to visit and comfort the sick. She helped prisoners. Matilda did not let herself be spoiled by her position, but tried to reach out to people in need.

King Henry realized that his wife was an extraordinary person. He told her many times that he was a better person and a better king because she was his wife. Even though their marriage had been arranged, Henry and Matilda really loved each other.

Matilda founded several Benedictine abbeys, and was free to use the treasures of the kingdom for charity. King Henry never questioned her. In fact, he became more aware of the needs of people. He realized that he had the power to ease suffering because of his position. The couple were happily married for twenty-three years. Then King Henry died quite suddenly in 936.

The queen suffered the loss very much. She decided then and there to live for God alone. So she called the priest to celebrate Mass for King Henry’s soul. Then she gave the priest all the jewels she was wearing. She did this to show that she meant to give up the things of the world from then on.

Although she was a saint, Matilda made a big mistake. She favored her son, Henry, more than her son, Otto, in the struggle to be king. She was sorry for having done this. She made up for it by accepting without complaint the sufferings that came her way. Nevertheless, she was betrayed by Otto after Henry’s death when he falsely accused her of financial mismanagement.

After years spent in practicing charity and penance, St. Matilda died peacefully in 968. She was buried beside her husband. From St. Matilda we can learn to offer up little sufferings to make up for our sins and mistakes.

SOURCE : http://www.ucatholic.com/saints/saint-matilda/

Matilda of Saxony, Queen, Widow (RM)
(also known as Mathildis, Maud, Mechtildis)


Born at Engern, Westphalia, Germany, c. 895; died at Quedlinburg, March 14, 968. Saint Matilda is another who shows us the possibility of living in the world and reaching the state of Christian perfection. It's not easy, especially at first, because there are so many delightful distractions that titillate the senses and feed the ego. But when the soul becomes acquainted with God and forms a relationship, it hungers and thirsts for more of His love. Thus, fervent prayer, holy meditation, and reading pious books, are more necessary for those living in the world than for professed religious, because of the continual distractions. Amidst the pomp, hurry, and amusements of a court, Saint Matilda gave herself up to holy contemplation with such earnestness, that though she never neglected any duties, her soul was raised to heaven. Saint Matilda was daughter of Count Dietric (Theodoric) of Westphalia and Reinhild of Denmark. At a very early age her parents placed her under the care of her grandmother, Maud, abbess of Eufurt monastery, who had renounced the world upon her widowhood. Matilda relished the life of prayer and spiritual reading. Like all young ladies she learned the refined skill of needlework. She remained in the convent until her parents married her to Henry, son of Duke Otto of Saxony, in 909 (some vitae push all the dates for marriage and crowning by several years).


Her husband, named the Fowler, from his fondness for popular sport of hawking, became duke of Saxony at the death of his father, in 912. Upon the death of Conrad I in 919, was chosen king of Germany. He was a pious and victorious prince, and very tender of his subjects. His solicitude in easing their taxes, made them ready to serve their country in his wars at their own cost, though he generously recompensed their zeal after his expeditions, which were always attended with success.

While he by his arms checked the insolence of the Hungarians and Danes, and enlarged his dominions by adding to them Bavaria, Matilda gained domestic victories over her spiritual enemies, more worthy of a Christian, and far greater in the eyes of heaven. She nourished the precious seeds of devotion and humility in her heart by assiduous prayer and meditation; and, not content with the time which the day afforded for these exercises, employed part of the night the same way. The nearer the view was which she took of worldly vanities, the more clearly she discovered their emptiness and dangers and sighed to see men pursue such bubbles to the loss of their souls; for, under a fair outside, they contain nothing but poison and bitterness.

It was her delight to visit and comfort the sick and the afflicted, to serve and instruct the poor, and to show charity to prisoners, procuring their freedom if justice would permit it or easing their suffering by liberal alms. Her husband, edified by her example, concurred with her in every pious undertaking.
After twenty-seven years of marriage, Matilda and Henry were separated by his death in 936. During his last illness, Matilda went to the church to pour forth her soul in prayer for him at the foot of the altar. As soon as she understood, by the tears and cries of the people, that he had expired, she called for a priest that was fasting, to offer the holy sacrifice for his soul; and at the same time cut off the jewels which she wore, and gave them to the priest as a pledge that she renounced from that moment the pomp of the world.

She had three sons (one source says five); Otto, afterwards emperor; Henry, duke of Bavaria who is known as "the Quarrelsome"; and Saint Bruno, archbishop of Cologne. Henry was the better suited to succeed his father, but Otto, the eldest, was elected. Otto was crowned king of Germany in 937. Matilda, in the contest between her two elder sons for the elected crown, favored her middle son, Henry, a fault she expiated by severe afflictions and penance. When Otto (the Great) was elected, she persuaded him to name Henry duke of Bavaria after he had led an unsuccessful revolt.

These two sons conspired to strip her of her dowry, on the unjust charge that she had squandered away the revenues of the state on the poor. This persecution was long and cruel, especially because it came at the hands of her precious sons. She retired to her country home but was later recalled to the court at the insistence of Otto's wife, Edith. The errant princes were reconciled to her and restored her all they had taken. She then became more liberal in her alms than ever.

When Henry again revolted, Otto put down the insurrection in 941 with great cruelty. Matilda censured Henry when he began another revolt against Otto in 953 and for his ruthlessness in suppressing a revolt by his own subjects; at that time she prophesied his imminent death. Yet, the testimony of her son Henry is powerful. He told her: "Oh, my very dear one, in all things you have given us excellent advice: how many times have you changed iniquity to justice."

After Henry's death in 955, she devoted herself to building many churches and four religious houses, including Engern, Pöhlde in Brunswick (where she maintained 3,000 monks), Quedlinburg in Saxony (where she buried her husband), and Nordhausen, where she retired in her later years. When she had finished the buildings, Quedlinburg became her usual retreat. After his victories over the Bohemians and Lombards, Matilda governed the kingdom when Otto went to Rome in 962 to be crowned emperor, which is often regarded as the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire.

During the last of her 32 years of widowhood, Matilda entered one of the convents she had founded at Nordhausen. She applied herself totally to her devotions, and to works of mercy. It was her greatest pleasure to teach the poor and ignorant how to pray, as she had formerly taught her servants. In her last sickness she made her confession to her grandson William, the archbishop of Mentz, who yet died twelve days before her, on his road home. She again made a public confession before the priests and monks of the place, received a second time the last sacraments, and lying on a sackcloth with ashes on her head. Her body remains at Quedlinburg, where she is buried beside her husband. The Benedictines venerate her as one of their oblates.


To find the bliss Matilda found requires foregoing vain pleasures to open precious hours for devotional exercises. Perhaps we can all hasten our journey toward sanctity this Lent by giving up an hour of television daily to spend in prayer or Scripture study or volunteering to help the less fortunate. Time is a most precious commodity; use it wisely (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0314.shtml


St. Maud, or Mathildis, Queen of Germany

From her life, written forty years after her death, by the order of St. Henry; Acta Sanct. t. 7. p. 361.

A.D. 968

THIS princess was 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, who had renounced the world in her widowhood, was then abbess. Here our saint acquired an extraordinary relish for prayer and spiritual reading; and learned to work at her needle, and to employ all the precious moments of life in something serious and worthy the great end of her creation. She remained in that house an accomplished model of all virtues, till her parents married her to Henry, son of Otho, duke of Saxony, in 913. Her husband, surnamed the Fowler, from his fondness for the diversion of hawking, then much in vogue, became duke of Saxony by the death of his father, in 916; and in 919, upon the death of Conrad, was chosen king of Germany. He was a pious and victorious prince, and very tender of his subjects. His solicitude in easing their taxes, made them ready to serve their country in his wars at their own charges, though he generously recompensed their zeal after his expeditions, which were always attended with success. Whilst he, by his arms, checked the insolence of the Hungarians and Danes, and enlarged his dominions by adding to them Bavaria, Maud gained domestic victories over her spiritual enemies, more worthy of a Christian, and far greater in the eyes of heaven. She nourished the precious seeds of devotion and humility in her heart by assiduous prayer and meditation; and, not content with the time which the day afforded for these exercises, employed part of the night the same way. The nearer the view was which she took of worldly vanities, the more clearly she discovered their emptiness and dangers, and sighed to see men pursue such bubbles to the loss of their souls; for, under a fair outside, they contain nothing but poison and bitterness.

It was her delight to visit, comfort, and exhort the sick and the afflicted; to serve and instruct the poor, teaching them the advantages of their state from the benedictions and example of Christ; and to afford her charitable succours to prisoners, procuring them their liberty where motives of justice would permit it; or at least easing the weight of their chains by liberal alms; but her chief aim was to make them shake off their sins by sincere repentance. Her husband, edified by her example, concurred with her in every pious undertaking which she projected. Alter twenty-three years’ marriage, God was pleased to call the king to himself by an apoplectic fit, in 936. Maud, during his sickness, went to the Church to pour forth her soul in prayer for him at the foot of the altar. As soon as she understood, by the tears and cries of the people, that he had expired, she called for a priest who was fasting, to offer the holy sacrifice for his soul; and at the same time cut off the jewels which she wore, and gave them to the priest, as a pledge that she renounced from that moment the pomp of the world. She had three sons; Otho, afterwards emperor; Henry, Duke of Bavaria, and St. Bruno, archbishop of Cologne. Otho was crowned king of Germany in 937, and emperor at Rome in 962, after his victories over the Bohemians and Lombards. Maud, in the contest between her two elder sons for the crown which was elective, favoured Henry, who was the younger, a fault she expiated by severe afflictions and penance. These two sons conspired to strip her of her dowry, on the unjust pretence that she had squandered away the revenues of the state on the poor. This persecution was long and cruel, coming from all that was most dear to her in this world. The unnatural princes at length repented of their injustice, were reconciled to her, and restored her all that had been taken from her. She then became more liberal in her alms than ever, and founded many churches, with five monasteries; of which the principal were that of Polden in the duchy of Brunswick, in which she maintained three thousand monks; and that of Quedlinbourg in the duchy of Saxony. 1 She buried her husband in this place, and when she had finished the buildings, made it her usual retreat. She applied herself totally to her devotions, and to works of mercy. It was her greatest pleasure to teach the poor and ignorant how to pray, as she had formerly taught her servants. In her last sickness she made her confession to her grandson William, the archbishop of Mentz, who yet died twelve days before her, on his road home. She again made a public confession before the priests and monks of the place, received a second time the last sacraments, and lying on a sack-cloth with ashes on her head, died on the 14th of March in 968. Her body remains at Quedlinbourg. Her name is recorded in the Roman Martyrology on this day.

The beginning of true virtue is most ardently to desire it, and to ask it of God with the utmost assiduity and earnestness, 2 preferring it with all the saints to kingdoms and thrones, and considering riches as nothing in comparison with this our only and inestimable treasure. Fervent prayer, holy meditation, and reading pious books, are the principal means by which it is to be constantly improved, and the interior life of the soul to be strengthened. These are so much the more necessary in the world than in a religious state, as its poison and distractions threaten her continually with the greatest danger. Amidst the pomp, hurry, and amusements of a court, St. Maud gave herself up to holy contemplation with such earnestness, that though she was never wanting to any exterior or social duties, her soul was raised above all perishable goods, dwelt always in heaven, and sighed after that happy moment which was to break the bonds of her slavery, and unite her to God in eternal bliss and perfect love. Is it possible that so many Christians, capable of finding in God their sovereign felicity, should amuse themselves with pleasures which flatter the senses, with reading profane books, and seeking an empty satisfaction in idle visits, vain conversation, news, and sloth, in which they pass those precious hours which they might employ in exercises of devotion, and in the duties and serious employments of their station? What trifles do they suffer to fill their minds and hearts, and to rob them of the greatest of all treasures? Conversation and visits in the world must only be allowed as far as they are social duties, must be regulated by charity and necessity, sanctified by simplicity, prudence, and every virtue, animated by the spirit of God, and seasoned with a holy unction which divine grace gives to those whom it perfectly replenishes and possesses.

Note 1. The abbess of this latter is the first princess of the empire. [back]

Note 2. Sap. vii. 6. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume III: March. The Lives of the Saints.  1866.

SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/3/141.html

Santa Matilde di Germania Regina


Engern, Sassonia, 895 circa - Quedlinburgo, Sassonia, 14 marzo 968

Da lei e da suo marito Enrico I (duca di Sassonia e più tardi re di Germania) discende la casata che conterà quattro imperatori: la famosa dinastia sassone. Educata nel monastero di Herford, in Westfalia, dove sua nonna era badessa, Matilde sa leggere e scrivere, un fatto non frequentissimo nelle grandi casate del tempo, e non si mantiene estranea alle vicende della politica. Quando nel 936 muore suo marito Enrico, lei non è molto favorevole al primogenito Ottone come successore e tenta di far proclamare re il più giovane Enrico. Si arriva a un conflitto tra i due fratelli. Dopo l'incoronazione imperiale di Ottone a Roma (962) la famiglia è riconciliata. Matilde si ritira nel monastero di Nordhausen, dove, dopo essersi spesa per i poveri e i malati, si ammala, e più tardi si trasferisce in un altro monastero: a Quedlimburgo, in Sassonia dove morirà. (Avvenire)

Etimologia: Matilde = forte in guerra, dal tedesco

Emblema: Corona, Globo, Scettro, Borsa di denaro, Modellino di chiesa

Martirologio Romano: A Quedlinburg in Sassonia, in Germania, santa Matilde, che, moglie fedelissima del re Enrico, fu insigne per umiltà e pazienza e si prodigò generosamente nell’assistenza ai poveri e nella fondazione di ospedali e monasteri.

Santa Matilde, discendente del duca Viduchindo, che aveva guidato i sassoni nella loro lunga battaglia contro Carlo Magno, nacque verso l’895 presso Engern in Sassonia da Teodorico, un conte della Westfalia, e da Rainilde, originaria della real casa danese. Ben presto Matilde fu affidata alle cure della nonna paterna, badessa di Herford, sotto la cui guida crebbe sana e forte, divenendo una donna bella, istruita e devota. Felice si rivelò il matrimonio con il figlio del duca Ottone di Sassonia, Enrico, detto “l’uccellatore” per la sua passione nella caccia del falco. Subito dopo la nascita del loro primogenito Ottone, Enrico succedette al padre e verso il 919, quando re Corrado di Germania morì senza prole, eredito anche il trono tedesco.

A causa delle frequenti guerre Enrico si allontanava spesso da casa e sia lui che i suoi sudditi attribuivano le vittorie conseguite alle preghiere ed al coraggio della regina Matilde, che nel suo palazzo conduceva a tutti gli effetti una vita monacale, generosa e caritatevole verso tutti. Suo marito nutriva nei suoi confronti una cieca fiducia e difficilmente si prendeva la briga di controllare le sue elemosine o si risentiva per le sue pratiche religiose. Nel 936, rimasta vedova, Matilde si spogliò immediatamente di tutti i suoi gioielli rinunciando ai privilegi tipici del suo rango.

Dall’unione tra Enrico e Matilde erano nati cinque figli: Enrico il Litigioso, il futuro imperatore Ottone I, San Bruno arcivescovo di Colonia, Gerburga moglie del re Luigi IV di Francia ed Edvige madre di Ugo Capeto. Enrico avrebbe preferito lasciare il trono al fratello Ottone, ma Matilde tentò di convincere i nobili ad eleggere comunque lui, suo prediletto, ma infine la spuntò Ottone. Enrico inizialmente si ribellò al fratello, ma infine riconobbe la sua supremazia e questi allora, per intercessione di Matilde, lo perdonò e lo nominò duca di Baviera. Suo figlio divenne poi imperatore col nome di Enrico II alla morte di Ottone I.

La regina Matilde conduceva una vita assai austera ed a causa delle sue ingenti elemosine si attirò le ire dei figli: Ottone la accusò infatti di sperperare il tesoro delal corona, le richiese un rendiconto delle sue spese e la fece spiare per tenere sotto controllo ogni suo movimento, ma con suo grande dolore anche il figlio favorito Enrico si schierò con il fratello appoggiando la proposta di far entrare la madre in convento onde evitare ulteriori danni al patrimonio familiare. Matilde sopportò con estrema pazienza tuttò ciò, constatando amaramente come i suoi figli si fossero riappacificati solo per perseguire i loro interessi a suo discapito. Lasciò allora tutta la sua eredità ai figli e si ritirò nella residenza di campagna ove era nata.

Era però destino che la Germania non potesse fare ameno di questa santa donna: appena partita, infatti, Enrico cadde ammalato e sorsero nuovi problemi politici. Sotto pressione del clero e dei nobili, la moglie di Ottone convinse questi a chiedere perdono alla madre, a restituirle il maltolto e richiamarla a partecipare agli affari di stato. Matilde tornò così a corte e riprese anche le sue opere di carità. Enrico continuò comunque ad essere per lei fonte di tormenti: si ribellò nuovamente al fratello Ottone e soppresse in modo sanguinoso una ribellione dei suoi sudditi bavaresi. Nel 955, quando Matilde lo vide per l’ultima volta, ne predisse la morte ed invano lo invitò a tornare sui suoi passi prima che fosse troppo tardi. Ottone invece mostrò rinnovata fiducia nella regina madre, lasciando a lei tutto il potere quando nel 962 dovette recarsi a Roma per ricevere la corona imperiale.

L’ultima riunione di famiglia ebbe luogo tre anni dopo a Colonia, in occasione della Pasqua, poi Matilde si ritirò definitivamente nei monasteri da lei fondati, in particolare a Nordhausen. Verso la fine del 967 una febbre che la disturbava ormai da tempo si aggravò ulteriormente e Matilde, presagendo la sua prossima fine, mandò a cercare Richburga, sua ex dama di compagnia ed ora badessa di Nordhausen, per spiegarle che doveva partire per Quedlinburg, luogo scelto con suo marito per la loro sepoltura. Nel gennaio 968 dunque si trasferì e suo nipote, Guglielmo di Magonza, le fece visita per darle l’assoluzione e l’estrema unzione. Desiderando ricompensarlo, non le restò però che donargli il suo sudario prevedento che ne avrebbe avuto bisogno prima lui: Guglielmo morì infatti dodici giorni prima di lei.

La santa regina spirò il 14 marzo 968 e le sue spoglie mortali erano state appena deposte in chiesa quando giunse una coperta intessuta d’oro mandata dalla figlia Gerburga per adornare il feretro. Il corpo di Matilde venne sepolto accanto a quello del marito e subito iniziò la venerazione popolare nei suoi confronti. Nelle diocesi tedesche di Paderborn, Fulda e Monaco è ancora oggi particolarmente vivo il suo culto. L’iconografia è solita raffigurare Santa Matilde con in mano il modelino di una chiesa o una borsa di denaro, simboli della sua generosità e delle sue fondazioni monastiche, quali Poehlde, Enger, Nordhausen e ben due presso Quedlinburgo.

Autore:
Fabio Arduino