16 October 2010

16 October - Saint Hedwig and her Soles; Marie Antoinette

Memorial of Saint Hedwig (a name quite familiar to Harry Potter fans), Widow and Patroness of Silesia.

A German princess, she was married at a young age to the Duke of Silesia.  She carried out her duties of wife and mother, convincing husband and children by her example to perform pious acts of charity and submission to God's will.  After her husband's death, she retired to the Cistercian convent of Trzebnica, which she had persuaded her husband to build, and of which her daughter was prioress.

When her son was killed in battle against the invading Mongols, she could, even in her grief, thank God for his blessings:

"I thank you, my God, for having given me such a son, who always loved and honored me, and never gave me the least occasion of displeasure.  To see him alive was my great joy; yet I feel a still greater pleasure in seeing him, by such a death, deserve to be forever united to you in the kingdom of your glory.  O my God, with my whole heart, I commend to you his dear soul."

God, give us the strength and the grace to praise You, even as we mourn. Amen.

According to accounts of her life, she practiced humility by going barefoot, even in winter, carrying a pair of shoes under her arm to put on if she met anyone.  There was a bread called "Saint Hedwig's Soles", made for this day; you can use any yeast bread recipe you like for it.  The shape of the buns resembles the kind of shoe seen in portraits of Henry VIII and his court - a kind of truncated triangle, wide at one end, slightly narrower at the other.


Scald 1/2 cup of milk, then cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, dissolve 1 package of active dry yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water (105 to 115 degrees F).  Sir in 1/2 cup lukewarm milk, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of shortening or softened butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 egg, and 2 cups of flour.  Beat until smooth, then mix in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead it until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. 

Place the dough in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1-1/2 hours. 

Punch down dough.  Pinch off pieces of dough and roll them to form 10 - 12 small balls.  Flatten the balls to about 1/4 inch thick and shape them into soles.  Place the soles on a greased baking sheet and let them rise for about 40 minutes.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 - 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Heat 1/2 cup of jam (any flavor) until melted; brush lightly over soles.  Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of chopped nuts, if desired.
Today in 1793, another royal widow was martyred - the Widow Capet, in happier times known as Marie Antoinette, Queen of France.  For in-depth research on her, I will send you to the blog Tea at Trianon, where Elena Maria Vidal battles against the usual calumnies and time-hallowed lies that surround this much-maligned Princess.