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St. Matilda: Patron Saint of Mothers Whose Kids Are Entitled Little Shits

patron saints problem children saints

Descendant of a Saxon king and wife of a German one, St. Matilda (aka Maud) lived in the last quarter of the 9th century. She and her husband, King Henry the Fowler, were parents of Otto, who became the emperor of Germany; Henry Jr., who became the duke of Bavaria; Bruno, who became the archbishop of Cologne; Gerberga, who as a woman didn’t get much ink devoted to her in the historical record that wasn’t mostly about her politically important marriage (to Gilbert of Lotharingia, then Louis IV of France); and Hedwig, ditto (to Hugh the Great).

When the king died, Otto succeeded him, but Henry contested the succession. They fought about it off and on for years, with Henry even plotting Otto’s assassination at one point. Matilda was instrumental in their eventually making peace with each other, but no sooner were they reconciled than they teamed up and went after their mother’s property from her dowry, which she’d been frittering away (to their minds) by building a bunch of convents. They seized her goods and she fled into exile to a convent in Westphalia.

They were eventually reconciled through the efforts of Otto’s wife, Eadgyth, after which Matilda continued to help the poor, found hospitals, and build churches. She’s remembered as a pious and generous friend of the poor and of the medieval church who founded many important monasteries. Her sons went down in the history books as key figures in Western European history.

And they were. But they were also entitled little shits.

(Officially, St. Matilda is the patron of large families and widows. Her feast day is March 14.)


Butler, Alban. “St. Maud, Queen.” Lives of the Saints. New York: Benziger Bros., 1894. pp. 107-108. Available at Internet Sacred Text Archive.

Englebert, Omer. “St. Matilda or Maud (d. 968).” The Lives of the Saints. Christopher and Anne Fremantle, trans. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1994. pp. 101-102. First English ed., 1951.

Kampers, Franz. “Otto I, the Great.” The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. Available at New Advent.

Further Reading

St. Matilda” at Saints Feast Family: Exploring Catholic Patron Saints of the Day & their Feasts. It has pictures, a link to a video showing off the collegiate church St. Servatius where St. Matilda is buried, and recipes for those who remember that saints’ days are called feast days, after all!

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