Rarely do humans realize the possibilities of the wise use of earthly power and worldly wealth. Hedwig was one of the few. Born to nobility toward the close of the 12th century, she was married at an early age to Henry, duke of Silesia (now Poland). Through her persuation and personal efforts, several monastic institutions of both men and women were established in Silesia. Several hospitals, one for lepers, were likewise founded. She was personally a great force in establishing peace in the surrounding areas during power struggles. To her great sorrow, she was unable to prevent a pitched battle between the forces of two of her sons, one of whom was dissatisfied over the partition of estates that Henry had made between them.
After she and her husband had made mutual vows of celibacy, she lived mostly at the monastery at Trebnitz where, although not a formal member of the religious institute, she nevertheless participated in the religious exercises of the community. She died in1243 and was buried at Trebnitz.
Hedwig sacrificed her wish to become a religious in later life in order to use her earthly goods to help the poor. She chose poverty, distrusting the comforts her means might have afforded her and denying herself even such basic necessities as shoes in winter. She wore the religious habit, lived the life of a religious, but would not give up the administration of her possessions because she used these goods to help the poor. She lived her life and used her possessions so that she and those she was able to help might better appreciate the supernatural life of God’s grace.