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Saint of the Day—available on the iPhone!

Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

January 1

(1224-1292)


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When Pope John Paul II traveled to his native Poland in June 1999, he fulfilled a long-held dream to canonize Kunigunde, a Polish princess whose elevation to sainthood had been stalled for many years because of political conditions. Celebrating the momentous event with him were half a million people who gathered in a field outside the small town of Stary Sacz.

Kunigunde, or Kinga, was born in 13th-century Hungary into a royal family distinguished for its political power as well as its holy women. Her aunts included St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Hedwig and St. Agnes of Prague; numbered among her siblings are the Dominican St. Margaret and Blessed Yolande.

When only 15, Kunigunde became engaged to the man who was to become the next King of Poland: Boleslaus V. Upon their marriage, the two took vows of chastity before the bishop and lived out their promises during their 40 years of married life. Meanwhile, Queen Kunigunde undertook the care of her young sister and spent many hours visiting the sick in hospitals. As the First Lady of Poland she was ever attentive to the welfare of her people and their special needs.

When King Boleslaus died in 1279, the people urged the queen to take over the reins of government, but she wished to consecrate herself wholly to God. For 13 years she lived the simple life of a Poor Clare nun, residing at a convent she and her husband had established. Ultimately she was elected abbess, and governed with charity and wisdom. She died a peaceful death, surrounded by her loving sisters. Many miracles are said to have occurred at her tomb.

In 1715, Pope Clement XI chose her as the special patron of Poles and Lithuanians.



Comment:

Kunigunde must have learned at home the charity that won her canonization. Perhaps it was the generosity of her sainted aunts that impressed her; more likely she picked it up from her immediate family. In any case, she cared for others’ needs even as a teenage bride. The virtue of charity, like faith, is more caught than taught. If youngsters see us responding to poverty and suffering, chances are they will follow in our footsteps.


Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.



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Elizabeth of Portugal: Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a portent of things to come. Under the healthful influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus fortunately prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God’s love, not merely through her exercises of piety, including daily Mass, but also through her exercise of charity, by which she was able to befriend and help pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor—in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom. 
<p>He, too, was the object of many of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God, and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso, who thought that he was passed over to favor the king’s illegitimate children. She acted as peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown. And finally from Coimbra, where she had retired as a Franciscan tertiary to the monastery of the Poor Clares after the death of her husband, she set out and was able to bring about a lasting peace between her son Alfonso, now king of Portugal, and his son-in-law, the king of Castile.</p> American Catholic Blog In the name of the Father, use my mind to bring you honor, and of the Son, fill my heart to spread your word, and of the Holy Spirit, strengthen me to carry you out to all the world. Amen.

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