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Cunigunde of Luxemburg

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Title: Cunigunde of Luxemburg  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Bamberg, List of saints, 1033, Cunégonde, Helius Eobanus Hessus, Spiritual marriage, List of royal saints and martyrs, Genevieve of Brabant, Bamberg Apocalypse, Kaufungen
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Cunigunde of Luxemburg

Saint Cunigunde of Luxembourg, O.S.B.
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Empress Consort of the Holy Roman Empire
Born 975
Died 3 March 1040
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 29 March 1200, Rome by Pope Innocent III
Major shrine Bamberg Cathedral
Feast 3 March
Attributes An empress in imperial robes, sometimes holding a church.
Patronage Patroness of Luxembourg

Saint Cunigunde of Luxembourg, O.S.B. (c. 975 – 3 March 1040 at Kaufungen), also called Cunegundes and Cunegonda, was the wife of the Holy Roman Emperor Saint Henry II. She is a Roman Catholic saint, the Patroness of Luxembourg; her feast day is 3 March.

Early life

Cunigunde was one of eleven children born to Siegfried I of Luxembourg (922 – 15 August 998) and Hedwig of Nordgau (c. 935 – 992). She was a seventh-generation descendant of Charlemagne. It is said that she had long wanted to be a nun,[1] and that her marriage to St. Henry was a spiritual one (also called a "white marriage"); that is, they married for companionship alone, and by mutual agreement did not consummate their relationship. The truth of this is debatable; while the couple were both certainly childless, it is supposed that later hagiographers mistakenly construed the fact to imply a virginal marriage - this may also be seen in the case of Edward the Confessor.[2]

It appears that Cunigunde was active politically. As the closest adviser of her husband, she took part in Imperial councils. She is also reported to have exerted an influence on her husband in his endowments of land to the church. These included the cathedral and monastery at Bamberg.

In 1014, St. Cunigunde went with her husband to Rome and was crowned Empress, receiving together with Henry the Imperial Crown from the hands of Pope Benedict VIII. During her reign she suffered from a grave illness, and made a vow that if she were to regain her health, she would found a Benedictine nunnery at Kassel. Upon her recovery, she kept her oath and work began on the building;[1] however, Henry died in 1024, before it was finished. Upon his death, Cunigunde was obliged to take on the role of Regent. This she did with her brother, and later handed over the Imperial insignia when Conrad II was elected to succeed her late husband on 8 September 1024.

Religious life and death

As a widow, St. Cunigunde was left comparatively poor, owing to the enormous wealth given away by her and Henry in charitable works.[3]

In 1025, exactly one year after the death of her husband, St. Cunigunde retired to Kaufungen Abbey, in Hesse, Germany, where she entered the monastery of Benedictine nuns she had founded there. At the dedication of the monastery, she offered a relic of the True Cross, removed her regalia, and donned the habit of the nun. There she remained at the monastery, performing charitable works, caring for the sick and devoting her time to prayer. She died in 1040, and was buried at Bamberg Cathedral beside her husband.


Cunigunde was canonised by Pope Innocent III on 29 March 1200. To prepare a case for canonisation, a biography was compiled of her life. This, and the Papal Bull for her canonisation, relate several instances of miracles purported to have been worked by the Empress.[2]

One of these relates how, when calumniators accused her of scandalous conduct, her innocence was signally vindicated by Divine Providence, as she walked over pieces of flaming irons without injury, to the great joy of her husband, the Emperor.[3] Another tells of St. Cunigunde falling asleep one night and being carried into bed. Her maid also fell asleep and a candle set the bed on fire. The blaze awoke both of them and upon Cunigunde executing the Sign of the Cross, the fire immediately disappeared, saving them from burning.

A final legend tells of one of Cunigunde's nieces, Judith, the abbess of Kaufungen Abbey. A frivolous young woman, Judith preferred feasting and carousing with the young sisters to the Sabbath rituals. Cunigunde remonstrated with her, to little effect. Finally the saint became so vexed with her niece that she slapped her across the face; the marks remained on her face for the rest of her life, serving as a warning to those of the community who would not take their vows or observances seriously.

See also


External links

Preceded by
Queen consort of Germany
Succeeded by
Gisela of Swabia
Empress consort of the
Holy Roman Empire

Preceded by
Gisela of Burgundy
Duchess consort of Bavaria
Succeeded by
Gunhilda of Denmark


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