Lived her vocation, even after death
Zdislava lived in Lemberk, on the border of Europe and the territories occupied by the Mongols. During this time the Mongol Hordes were invading Europe, buring towns, pillaging and killing. Zdislava was married to the Duke of Lemberk, who was a fierce soldier. They lived in a castle fortress and her husband fought the Mongols. He was a rough man who loved to fight. He didn’t like to give to the poor or provide for the refugees of the war. He forced Zdislava to dress up in fancy gowns and sit through long, rowdy banquets with the soldiers.
Zdislava hated wearing the lavish clothes and the banquet feasts. She would have much rather lived simply and spent her time with their four children. Whenever she could get away with it, she gave food, money and medicine to the poor. She did her best to honor her husbands requests because it was her vocation, but she also did her best to do what was right even if he didn’t approve. Eventually, she convinced him to let her build a hostel for refugees and a house for religious.
Some of these religious told her of St Dominic and his Dominican order. She loved the idea of a religious community, but already had found her vocation as wife and mother. They permitted her to become what is called a “Third Order” Dominican, which means she would remain married and care for her family, while doing her best to live and pray like the Dominican sisters. She received communion nearly every day, which was uncommon at that time. During the day she would be a model wife and mother, but at night she would sneak out of the castle to build a new church on their estate with her own bare hands.
When she fell ill and died, thousands of poor and refugees came to her new church to mourn her. They grieved the loss of her help and generosity, but especially they were sad to lose her great example of balancing respect for her vocation of marriage and her family while still finding ways to do good works for others. When her husband the Duke saw this, he was greatly moved.
Zdislava knew that her primary vocation as a married woman was to get her husband and children to Heaven. So then, in one final act of love for her husband, she appeared to him in a vision in the glory of Heaven, to convince him to change his heart and follow God. He finally listened.
Her feast day is January 1.