Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An empress...dedicated to God

St. Cunegundis - the name brings back memories. We have had a number of Sisters who took her name and, when I was a postulant, still discerning my religious name, we used to laugh about being "Sister Cunegunda." If only I'd known her, it might not have been a joke.

Cunegundis joined the Benedictine order several centuries after the women featured in the last few posts. She lived about a thousand years ago. Born in Luxemburg, she married Henry, Duke of Bavaria, as a young girl. Her husband, a man (as St. Francis used to say) "of noble birth but even more noble a nature" gave her permission to keep the vow of virginity which she had made before their marriage.

When Otho III died, Henry was chosen Emperor and the young couple moved to Rome.

She had a tough time there. I suppose they weren't used to women of such purity, so people accused her of all kinds of awful behavior. (She can't be that good!) God decided to work a miracle in order to prove them wrong - although I could not find the full story on why she chose to "walk over pieces of flaming irons" to prove her purity of life. It made her husband happy though.

Her husband died in 1024. As a widow, she built a monastery for Benedictine nuns and, after its dedication, took the veil and lived the remainder of her life according to the rule of St. Benedict. She pursued prayer, manual labor, humility and grace.

Cunegundis typifies a life wholly dedicated to God in every circumstance. As a girl of her times, she exercised no control over her state in life, but saw in every situation the providential hand of our Lord. For those of us who live in mixed-up times, that's a good lesson to learn. Each situation can give us a place and a way to praise God. It may not be easy or simple or pleasant, but we have full opportunity to become saints.

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