Ida of Herzfeld
Saint Ida of Herzfeld (c. 788 – c. 825) was the widow of a Saxon duke who devoted her life to the poor following the death of her husband in 811. Her feast day is September 4.
The daughter of a count, Ida received her education at the court of Charlemagne, who gave her in marriage to a favourite lord of his court, named Egbert, and bestowed on her a great fortune in estates to recompense her father’s services. It was an apparently happy marriage.
Her Life is sometimes quoted in support of the proposition that sexual congress within the institution of marriage reflects spiritual unities as well:
- At the moment when the two are united in one flesh, there is present in them a single and similar operation of the Holy Spirit: when they are linked together in each other's arms in an external unity, which is to say, a physical unity, this indivisible action of the Holy Spirit inflames them with a powerful interior love directed towards celestial realities.
She was left a widow at a young age. The available biographies of Saint Ida report that her husband died in 811. Thereafter she devoted her time to acts of charity. Among her reported acts of kindness were filling a stone coffin with food each day, then giving it to the poor; she also reportedly founded the church at Hovestadt, Westphalia, and the convent of Herzfeld, Westphalia, sometimes recorded as Hirutveldun. She was reportedly the mother of Warin, the abbot of Corvey from 826 to 856, Count Cobbo the Elder, and Addila or Mathilde, the abbess of Herzfeld.
She was canonized on November 26, 980, is the patron saint of brides and widows and is frequently depicted either as carrying a church or with a dove hovering over her head.
She has sometimes also been identified as Redburga or Rædburh, who was, by some accounts, either the sister-in-law of Charlemagne, his sister, the daughter of his sister-in-law. his niece or his great-granddaughter. Redburga supposedly married king Egbert of Wessex, but this is dismissed by historians as the only source for Redburga's existence is a late medieval chronicle.
- Butler, Alban. “Saint Ida, Widow”, Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866
- Janet Nelson's 2004 article on Egbert's son Æthelwulf in the Online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that his mother's name in unknown.