About the Image:
Saint Hedwig of Silesia (1174 - 1243) was a duchess who later became a saint canonized by the Catholic Church in 1267. Her feast day is October 16th. She was known for her piety, ascetic lifestyle, and charitable works, especially towards the poor and needy. In imagery, Saint Hedwig is often depicted holding shoes, which symbolizes her humility and connection to the poor. The following points elaborate on this symbolism:
- Identification with the Poor: Saint Hedwig was known to dress herself in used clothing and old shoes, as a gesture of solidarity with the poor. She believed in living a humble life and did not want to stand out from the impoverished, stating that "they are our masters".
- Ascetic Lifestyle: Her ascetic practices included wearing inadequate clothing and going barefoot, among other self-mortification practices. These practices were meant to deepen her spiritual connection and embody a life of humility and service.
- Practical Charity: Saint Hedwig was not only engaged in prayer and spiritual practices but also in practical charity. For example, she would darn clothes late at night, indicating her hands-on approach to helping others and her willingness to engage in humble tasks often associated with poverty or lower social status.
Her holding of shoes in various depictions symbolizes these aspects of humility, identification with the poor, and an ascetic lifestyle. Through this symbolism, the imagery captures the essence of Saint Hedwig's life and her spiritual and charitable endeavors.