Jolenta was the daughter of Bela IV, King of Hungary. Her sister, St. Kunigunde, was married to the Duke of Poland. Jolenta was sent to Poland where her sister was to supervise her education. Eventually married to Boleslaus, the Duke of Greater Poland, Jolenta was able to use her material means to assist the poor, the sick, widows, and orphans. Her husband joined her in building hospitals, convents, and churches so that he was surnamed “the Pious.”
Upon the death of her husband and the marriage of two of her daughters, Jolenta and her third daughter entered the convent of the Poor Clares. War forced Jolenta to move to another convent where despite her reluctance, she was made abbess.
So well did Jolenta serve her Franciscan sisters by word and example, that her fame and good works continued to spread beyond the walls of the cloister. Her favorite devotion was the Passion of Christ. Indeed, Jesus appeared to her, telling her of her coming death. Many miracles, down to our own day, are said to have occurred at her grave.
Jolenta’s story begins like a fairy tale. But fairy tales seldom include the death of the prince and never end with the princess living out her days in a convent. Nonetheless, Jolenta’s story has a happy ending. Her life of charity toward the poor and devotion to her Franciscan sisters indeed brought her to a “happily ever after.” Our lives may be short on fairy tale elements, but our generosity and our willingness to serve well the people we live with lead us toward an ending happier than we can imagine.