Saint Zdislava of Lemberk (ca. 1220-1252)

“Look to the shining testimony of Saint Zdislava, mother of a family, rich in works of religion and works of mercy.”

Pope John Paul II, Brno, 27 September 2009.
S. Zdislavae de Moravia, Matrisfamilias, Die 4 ianuarii

St. Zdislava was a noblewoman, born in Brno (now in the Czech Republic) in the 13th century. She was the mother of a family and Dominican tertiary and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1995. After an early attempt at eremitical life, she returned to society and later married Duke Havel of Lemberk. She raised four children in the castle of Lemberk, but her care extended to all the needy of the land. When the Polish missionaries St. Hyacinth and Bl. Ceslaus arrived at Lemberk, they brought news of the Order of Preachers, founded some years before by St. Dominic. She became an early lay Dominican. (The Third Order of St. Dominic was not formally organized until 1285.) Spurred by her new apostolic calling, St. Zdislava urged her husband to build a hospice for poor pilgrims. She herself funded the construction of a church, the Priory of St. Laurence – even visiting the site at night, to move beams and stones into place without others knowing. She was a frequent communicant, a visionary, a catechist, a healer, and an advocate for prisoners. St. Zdislava died in 1252 and is buried in the church she built, now called the Church of Sts. Laurence and Zdislava, in the Czech village of Jablonné v Podjestedi.