Hedwig: Both Owl and Saint

In the first Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Hagrid buys Harry a snowy owl and it is named Hedwig. A few tidbits of Potter trivia on Hedwig:

  • (Sorcerer’s Stone) Three owls play Hedwig: Gizmo, Ook, and Sprout, but mainly Gizmo.
  • (Sorcerer’s Stone) At one point, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are approaching Hagrid, he can be seen playing a wind instrument. He is playing Hedwig’s Theme.
  • Although neither the film nor the book reveal which Death Eater killed Hedwig, many fans have theorized that it was Snape. The theory states that Snape did this because he realized that Hedwig would give away which Harry was the real one and killed her to protect him.
  • Per JK Rowling: “Naturally I gave my hero what I consider to be the most beautiful owl of the lot: the Snowy Owl, which also goes by the name of Ghost Owl. These are not native to Britain, so I felt that she would give Harry kudos at Hogwarts (there is no other snowy owl there, as I trust you have noticed). However, any owl expert would tell you that Hedwig is strangely atypical of her breed. Only after Philosopher’s Stone had been accepted for publication did I realize that Snowy Owls are diurnal. I think it was during the writing of Chamber of Secrets that I discovered that Snowy Owls are also virtually silent, the females being even quieter than the males. So all of Hedwig’s night-time jaunts and her many reproving hoots may be taken as signs of her great magical ability or my pitiful lack of research, whichever you prefer.”
  • Per JK Rowling: “The loss of Hedwig represented a loss of innocence and security. She has been almost like a cuddly toy to Harry at times. Voldemort killing her marked the end of childhood. I’m sorry… I know that death upset a LOT of people!”
  • When asked about the name of Harry’s owl, JK Rowling commented: “Hedwig is a Saint”. There are two Saint Hedwigs: St. Hedwig of Silesia (1174-1243) and the other is St. Hedwig, a polish queen that lived from 1373 to 1399. Both were known for caring for the poor, needy and orphans.  She has an order of nuns who carry her name, ‘The Sister of St. Hedwig’.  This order is still in existence and is in charge of a number of schools and orphanages. Seeing as Harry is an orphan, it seems fitting for him to name his owl this saint.

I love that Hedwig is so important that the theme of the entire movie series is named Hedwig’s Theme


So, on to the namesake. Hedwig was named after Saint Hedwig of Silesia (Polish) 1174-1243. She was a duchess of Silesia and Greater Poland and then Greater Duchess consort of Poland.

According to Catholic.org: Duchess and widow, the patroness of Silesia, a region of eastern Europe. Also called Jadwiga in some lists, she died in a Cistercain convent, having taken vows. Hedwig was born in Andechs, Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of the Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia. She was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. At the age of twelve, Hedwig was marry to Duke Henry of Silesia, the head of the Polish Royal family. She bore him seven children, and they had a happy marriage. Henry founded a Cistercain convent at Trebnitz, as well as hospitals and monasteries. Henry died in 1238 and Hedwig became a Cistercain at Trebnitz. She had to leave her prayers to make peace among her offspring, and she buried a child who was killed fighting against the Mongols. She died in the convent on October 15. Many miracles were reported after her death, and she was canonized in 1266.  Her feast day is Oct 16.

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