St. Hunegund of France
Commemorated on August 25
St. Hunegund was born at Lembais, an estate belonging to her parents, near the town of St. Quentin, in the early seventh century. Being a heiress of considerable means, she was betrothed in her infancy to another child, who died at an early age. When she came to marriageable age, she was betrothed to Eudaldus, a French nobleman.
Hunegund persuaded Eudaldus to take her to Rome before beginning their married life so that they might secure the special intercession of the apostles by visiting their tombs, and that their union might receive the blessing of the Bishop of Rome. Eudaldus granted her wish, and instead of preparing a bridal feast, they made ready a travelling carriage and a suitable train of servants and horses. They accomplished the journey very happily, visited the holy sites in Rome, and prayed with great devotion on the ground saturated with the blood of hundreds of martyrs.
On the last day, they were to be presented to the Bishop of Rome to receive his nuptial blessing. However, no sooner were they in his presence than Hunegund, in obedience to a sudden inspiration of piety, threw herself at the Bishop’s feet, made a solemn vow of perpetual virginity, and asked him to give her the veil of a consecrated nun. Eudaldus felt an impulse to run his sword through Hunegund, but resisting this temptation, he turned and left. He nursed his indignation all the way home, and intended to punish Hunegund by taking possession of all her property that was to have come to him as dowry.
However, on his arrival, he found that Hunegund was already there, living among the nuns of Homblièrcs, a community that had existed for several years, and that she had already presented all her property to the monastery. She soon became abbess, and built a church in honor of the Theotokos, so that she is regarded as the founder of Hombliéres.
After some time, Eudaldus understood the purity and holiness of Hunegund’s motives; his affection revived, he repented of his anger, and no longer wished to be married. He endowed her church with all that he was to have given her had she become his wife. He asked her forgiveness, and begged her to accept him as her servant. He became her most devoted friend, and transacted all the secular affairs of the monastery.
Eudaldus died before Hunegund, and left all his lands, slaves, and other property to the Church of Homblières. She rewarded his devotion by burying him in the spot he had chosen.
St. Hunegund entered into the Heavenly Kingdom in 690.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)