Saint of the Day – 4 September – Saint Ida of Herzfeld (c 770-c 825) Laywoman, Widow of a Egbert, a Saxon Duke, Apostle of Prayer and of the Poor. Patronages – brides, widows and pregnancy, the poor and the sick, Goetta country in Westphalia. She is frequently depicted either as carrying a church or with a dove hovering over her head. During the 32-year war between the Saxons and the Franks, Ida extended her protection to the Saxons in their . The deer with which Ida is often portrayed represents the Saxons, who are besieged by the Franks. Even today the deer is in the coat of arms of Herzfeld.
While there is disagreement as to her precise parentage, it is generally agreed that she was closely related to the Carolingians. 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 Egber, and bestowed on her a great fortune in estates to recompense her father’s services. It was an apparently happy marriage.
After her marriage she left her home and moved with him to Westphalia in 786 to his estates, which were near the present-day city of Osnabrück . On the way there, they crossed the Lippe on a ford near Hirutveldun (Old Saxon: deer fields) and pitched their tent on the right bank of the river. The following night, in a dream, Ida received the order from an angel to build a church there. This dream vision determined her actions and thoughts from now on. Together, Egbert and Ida, built the Church of Herzfeld, Westphalia and so became the founders of the first Catholic community in today’s MünsterlandHerzfeld (Lippetal .
Egbert died in 811. He found his final resting place on the south side of the Church. She then built a portico over his grave, where she lived a life devoted to prayer and works 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 founded a second Church at Hovestadt, Westphalia.
Ida died 4 September 825 and was buried at the church in Herzfeld, which became the first pilgrimage site in Westphalia. In 2011 the pilgrim Church of St Ida in Herzfeld (Lippetal) was designated a Minor Basilica. In Herzfeld, the festival of “Ida Week” is held every year in September in memory of the Saint. During the week,St Ida’s relics are carried through the village in a solemn procession, when the “Ida Blessing” is granted.
The Vita sanctae Idae Hertzfeldensis written in 980, by the Monk Uffing of the Abbey of Werden, focuses on her exemplary life, including suffering endured in divine trust. She was Canonised on 26 November 980.