Zdislava of Lemberk
c. 1220- 1 January 1252
pre-lay Dominican

A brief biography.

Zdislava was born c. 1220 in Křižanov Castle, what is now the Žďár nad Sázavou District of the Czech Republic to Pribislav of Krizanov and her mother Sybille, born in Sicily, settled to the Czech Lands as a member of the retinue of Queen Kunhuta.

Zdislava was reportedly an unusually devout child, who at age seven ran away into the forest with the intention of living a hermit's life of prayer and solitude. She was forcibly returned by her family, and made to live a comparatively normal childhood from that point on. At the age of 15 of 17, her family arranged for her to marry Gallus, Duke of Lämberg (Havel of Lemberk) of the prosperous Markwartiner family. The castle Lemberk is situated three kilometres at the North East of Jablonné v Podještědí (German:Gabel).

Gallus founded the towns of Gabel (German:  Gabel) and Habelschwerdt. Together they would have four children. In Lemberk, they founded a monastery for Dominican nuns. She continued to live a life of remarkable personal austerity, worked tirelessly in the care of the poor and dispossessed, and was, unusually for her era, a frequent recipient of the Eucharist.

Tatar invasions of Eastern Europe were causing large numbers of people to leave their homes during this period. A large number of refugees sought refuge at the castle of Gable, where Zdislava lived with her family and assisted these refugees as much as possible.

Her husband was concerned about what he considered the excessive degree of Zdislava's charity to these refugees. At one point, he is reported to have gone to the bed Zdislava had given to a feverous beggar the night before, but to have found a figure of the crucified Jesus there instead.
He is said to have been so impressed by the event that he would later allow her to found a Dominican priory in Jablonné y Podjestedi, o
ne of the oldest towns in the North Bohemia under the hill Hvozd. It was founded in 1240 along the trade route to Lusatia.

When the Polish Dominican missionaries Hyacinth Odrowaz (1185-1257) and his brother or nephew Ceslaus Odrowaz (1180-1242) arrived at Lemberk, they brought news of the Order of Preachers, founded by Saint Dominic on 22 December 1216.
Zdislava was excited by the opportunity to perform her works of mercy within the Dominican framework, and she became an early lay Dominican. - The Third Order of Saint Dominic was not formally organized until 1285.

Spurred by her new apostolic calling, Zdislava urged her husband to build a hospice for poor pilgrims. She herself funded the construction of the church, dedicated to Saint Lawrence the Dominican Priory,  even visiting the site at night, to move beams and stones into place without others knowing. She was a frequent communicant, a visionary, a catechist, a healer, and an advocate for prisoners.

The building was finished in 1252.  Zdislava worked with this convent for the rest of her life. She died in 1252,  and is buried in the church.

The Czech Dalimil Chronicle tells that Zdislava cured seriously ill people  and raised persons  from the death.
The Chronicle of Dalimil or Chronicle of so-called Dalimil (Czech: Dalimilova kronika; Kronika tak řečeného Dalimila) is the first chronicle or story written in Czech language. It was created in verses by an unknown author at the beginning of the 14th century. The Chronicle compiles information of older Czech chronicles written in Latin and also the author's own experiences. The chronicle finishes before 1314, but it is usually published including the entries of later authors describing the events until 1319.
Source: Wikipedia

The family Berka of Dauba was the principal funder to rebuild the Dominican priory and the church, in de period 1699 till 1729. Above the grave of Zdislava,  a church of high baroque rises with dome (45 metre) and two towers. In the crypt rich citizens  and monks (probable Dominicans)  are buried.

Veneration

Shortly after her death, - 1 January 1252 -, she is reported to have appeared to her husband. On 28 August 1907, Pope Pius X confirmed her veneration for her native country. Pope John Paul II canonized her and Jan Sarkander (1576-1620) in Olomouc on 21 May 1995.

Sources: Wikipedia, Catholic Online, ACR ALFA, Order of Preachers 2006-2016, and others.

References

Burns, Paul. Butler's Lives of the Saints: New Full Edition. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8146-2377-8.

Dolistová, Marie. Paní Zdislava z Lemberka. Prague, published: ŘÁD, 2009. ISBN 978-80-86673-15-8 (Czech, Polish, Upper Sorbian, German, Esperanto, English).


 

Philately

Postcard with picture of Zdislava with
on the right hand the church of the priory or monastery.  
On he postmark, Olmouc 21 May 1995, the day of her canonization
by Pope John Paul II. 

Ceska Republica 1995.

 

 


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