Zdislava Berka

(c. 1200—1252)

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Born in Bohemia, she is said to have fled her home to live as a solitary when a child, but she resumed a more normal life and was married to a rich nobleman, to whom she bore four children. This Count of Lemmberk seems to have treated her roughly, but eventually accepted her devotions, her austerities, and her almsgiving. This was particularly lavish in the times of the Tartar invasions, when displaced refugees flocked to their castle for help. Meanwhile she experienced visions and ecstasies and was closely associated with a Dominican priory which she had founded. There she would receive Holy Communion nearly every day long before it was customary to do so.

She fell seriously ill and knew that her end was near. She consoled her husband in life and appeared to him in glory after death, which strongly encouraged his desire for conversion. She died on 1 January 1252; her cult was approved in 1907 and in 1995 she was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Olomouc (now in the Czech Republic) together with her later compatriot, John Sarkander. Feast: 1 January.

B.L.S., i. 10–11; M. C. Ganay, Les Bienheureuses Dominicaines (1913), pp. 49–67.

Subjects: Christianity.

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