Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious. She was the daughter of Andrew II, King of Hungary, and wife of Duke Louis IV of Thuringia. She is famous for her great kindness and inexhaustible charity towards the poor and the sick.
Born in 1207, she lived in Hungary for the first four years of her life. Shortly after her birth, she was engaged to be married. She left and lived most of her life in Thuringia, Germany. Her mother, Gertrude, died when she was only six years old. She and her husband called each other “brother” and “sister.” In the middle ages, marriage was not seen as a form of holiness; that was for those in monasteries or the clergy. Elizabeth, by her example, shows that we can live in holiness in marriage as a spouse and parent.
1211-1227: Elizabeth lived most of her life in some castle in Germany. She refused to be the duchess and insisted that she wouldn’t live separately, but rather with her people. She, like St. Fransis, believed that Jesus is present in the poorest of the poor, and spent her life in service to them. She gave most of her posessions and clothes, and food, to the poor. She also built a small hospital.
She was devoted to the sacraments, particularly the Holy Mass. She placed her crown on the altar during one moment, while she was at the celebration of the Mass. She found herself overwhelmed with the majesty of Jesus, and felt she could no longer be in the true King’s presence with her crown on. As a sign of humility and poverty. She believed that we are all poor and depentent on the mercy and love of Christ.
In 1228, she took vows as a Fransiscan penitent. She formally renounced the world, and she lived a life of constant conversion. At this time, religious women had to enter the cloister, but Elizabeth was not interested in being separated from the poor. She wanted to live with the poor and serve them. She decided to create a new way: the third order of Fransiscans. (The first order is religious brothers; the second order is cloistered women religious.)
During the last three years of her life. She didn’t let that get in the way of ministering to the poor. She was asked what she wanted done with her belongings upon her death, upon which she answered: “Everything I own really belongs to the poor.”
Patron: Bakers; beggars; brides; Catholic charities; charitable societies; charitable workers; charities; countesses; death of children; exiles; falsely accused people; Franciscan Third Order; hoboes; homeless people; hospitals; in-law problems; lacemakers; lace workers; nursing homes; nursing services; people in exile; people ridiculed for their piety; Sisters of Mercy; tertiaries; Teutonic Knights; toothache; tramps; widows.
Symbols: Three crowns (virgin, wife, widow); triple crown; roses; basket of bread and flask of wine; roses in a robe; infant in a cradle; model of a hospital or of Warburg castle; distaff.
Often Portrayed As: Queen distributing alms; Woman wearing a crown and tending to beggars; Woman wearing a crown, carrying a load of roses in her apron or mantle.