St. Matilda, God’s Nightingale, Pray For Us!

‘St. Matilda,’ said Pope Benedict XVI, ‘was distinguished by her humility, her fervor, her friendliness, the clarity and the innocence of her life and by the familiarity and intensity with which she lived her relationship with God, the Virgin and the Saints.’

St. Matilda
St. Matilda (photo: BSonne / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0)

St. Matilda (892-968) was Queen of Germany and wife of King Henry I. She lived a life of piety and service to the poor, and she helped build many churches, convents and monasteries. Her feast day is March 14.

She grew up in Herford Abbey, and was raised by her grandmother, who was the abbess. At the abbey, she learned a love for prayer and spiritual reading, as well as for embroidery. At age 17, she left the convent for an arranged marriage to Henry the Fowler of Saxony, who became King Henry I of Germany in 919. Henry was 17 years her senior and quite wealthy; he had had his previous marriage annulled. He and Matilda had two daughters and three sons. One son, Otto, despite a rivalry over the throne with brother Henry, went on to become king of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor after his father’s death. Third son Bruno became archbishop of Cologne.

When Henry I died in 936, widowed Matilda resolved to give up the things of the world. Although she lived another 32 years, she never remarried. Giving up her inheritance to her sons, she entered Quedlinburg Abbey, which she had built. When she died, she was buried next to Henry I. She is patron of mothers with disappointing children.