Saturday, May 29, 2010

A short life of St. Zdislava

The Latin chronicle from the Cistercian monastery of Žďár (Cronica domus Sarensis) from 1300, and the Chronicle of Dalimil from 1314 written in Czech, are the most important historical sources for the life of Lady Zdislava and her family.

Her father Přibyslav from Křižanov was administrator of the king’s castles Veveři and Spilberk. Zdislava’s mother Sybila came to the Czech lands with Kunhuta, the wife of king Vaclav I. Kunhuta was a daughter of duke Philip of Swabia and the Byzantine princess (and dowager queen of Sicily) Irene Angelina. It is speculated that Sybila came from Byzantium as well, bringing with her medical knowledge from that great civilization – knowledge that she passed on to her daughters.

Přibyslav founded the Minorite convent in Brno and, together with his wife, the Cistercian monastery in Žďár. After 1220, at the time when Zdislava was born, the first Dominicans sent by St. Dominic came to Moravia from Bologna: St. Hyacinth and Henry of Moravia. During the next ten to fifteen years, Dominican convents were established in Prague, Olomouc, Bnro, Znojmo and elsewhere. Zdislava could have met Dominicans for the first time in either Brno or Prague.

In the church of St. Michael in Brno, Zdislava married Havel, a lord in North Bohemia. His parents resembled Zdislava’s in their religious fervour and culture. Young Havel also liked orders, especially the Cistercians. Zdislava must have been the one who introduced him to the Dominicans because at the same time that the town of Jablonné was founded, the Dominican convent was founded there as well. The establishment of a convent in Turnov (in about 1250) could also be attributed to her influence.
Zdislava, the lady of Lemberk and Jablonné, was known for her blessed marriage and motherhood. According to the Žďár Chronicle, Havel and Zdislava had four children: Havel, Markéta, Jaroslav and Zdislav. She was also known for acts of charity and many miracles. According to the Chronicle of Dalimil, she returned people to physical and spiritual health, and even brought several people back to life. The young wife and mother of four died around 1252 in Lemberk castle.

Her cult was confirmed by the holy pope Pius X, who beatified her in 1907. After the reestablishment of the Czech Dominican province, Zdislava became its patron saint. Zdislava as mother and patron saint of families was canonized by the venerable pope John Paul II on 21 May 1995 in Olomouc.


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