SAINTS

MARCH 3: ST. CUNEGUNDES

(975-1040)

St. Cunegundes was the daughter of Sigfrid, first Count of Luxemburg. She married Henry, duke of Bavaria (later to be St. Henry), who upon the death of the Emperor Otho III became King of the Romans.

In 1014, the couple traveled to Rome where they were crowned Holy Roman Emperor and Empress by Pope Benedict VIII.

Though they were married, they had a “white marriage,” that is, they married for companionship alone, and by mutual agreement did not consummate their relationship. Though Cunegundes lived a life of virginity with her husband’s blessings, detractors accused her of all manner of sins. It is told that she proved her purity by walking on flaming irons without harm, satisfying her critics and pleasing her husband.

Cunegundes was active politically. The title consors regni (meaning “partner in the rule”) for the wives of the Ottonian rulers often was used in charters. In one-third of Henry’s remaining charters, Cunegundes emerges as an advocate or initiator.

As the closest adviser of her husband, she took part in Imperial councils. She is also reported to have exerted an influence on her husband in his endowments of land to the Church. These included the cathedral and monastery at Bamberg, Bavaria, in present-day Germany.

During her reign she incurred a grave illness and made a vow that if she were to regain her health, she would found a Benedictine monastery at Kassel. Upon her recovery, she kept her oath and work began on the building; however, Henry died in 1024 before it was finished. Upon his death, Cunegundes was obliged to assume the office of Regent of the Empire. This she did with her brother, and later handed over the Imperial insignia when Conrad II was elected to succeed her late husband on Sept. 8, 1024.

In 1025, exactly one year after the death of her husband, Cunegundes retired to Kaufungen Abbey, in Hesse, Germany, where she entered the monastery of Benedictine nuns she had founded there. At the dedication of the monastery, she offered a relic of the True Cross, removed her regalia, and donned the habit of the nun. There she remained at the monastery, performing charitable works, caring for the sick and devoting her time to prayer.

She died on March 3, 1040, at Kaufungen. She was canonized by Pope Innocent III on 29 March 1200, 53 years after the canonization of her husband Henry II in July 1147.

Adapted by A. J. Valentini from: Online, C. (n.d.). St. Cunegundes – Saints & Angels. Catholic Online. Retrieved Feb. 25, 2021, from https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=217