Saint Spotlight: St. Elizabeth of Hungary


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Pascale Fitzgerald, Reporter

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was born in 1207 to King Andrew II and Gertrude of Andechs- Meran, who was a victim of a political murder in 1213.

In order to reinforce a political allegiance between Hungary and Thuringia, it was arranged that Elizabeth would marry the Prince of Thuringia – Louis. So, at the age of five, Elizabeth was sent off to Thuringia, where she would learn to speak their language, learn their culture, and grow to know the Prince, and love him very dearly. From a young age, Elizabeth was distinguished by her incredible piety and love for the Lord. At the age of five, she would pray four hours a day.

When Elizabeth married Louis, at the age of 14, it was a marriage of love, and turned out to be a short, but successful marriage. Her husband was supportive of all her acts of charity. He allowed beggars to eat at their table, and even lepers to sleep in their home. Elizabeth is known for her charity and love for the poor. When the country was overrun with plague, famine, and floods, her generosity only increased. Once, she had used up all the grain in the store room to make bread for the poor, and when the store room was searched, the bins were overflowing with grain – the Lord had provided for her every need. When she was taking bread out to the hungry, she was stopped and asked what she carried in her clothes; she unfolded her garments and the bread turned into roses.

As a queen, Elizabeth was expected to dress presentably, at least when important people came to visit. This was unfortunate, as Elizabeth had given away all her fine clothes, and wore ruff clothes over the top of hessian, which she wore penitentially. When a banquet was held at their palace, she had nothing presentable to wear. Louis asked her where her last fine cloak was. Knowing she had given it away, but trusting in God’s providence, she said that it was on the rack. When her maid went to look for it there, she found a beautiful blue cloak with gold embroidery hanging exactly where she had said it would be.

Elizabeth’s life was not free from suffering. At the age of 20 she was widowed, after her dear Louis died during the crusades. Elizabeth was marked with grief, for she had dearly loved her husband. Not long after he had died, she gave birth to their third child. Then, she made a vow of celibacy and obedience to her spiritual director and confessor. He was a very strict man, with very high standards, but she did not break her vows, even when she was told to send her beloved children away, and even when she was exiled and held captive, and put under great pressure to re-marry, which would break her vow of celibacy.

Elizabeth’s life was spent doing good for others. She built hospitals, gave food and shelter to the poor, and cared for the sick. She was faithful to her vows, and lived her life with a great devotion and trust in the Lord. Thus, when she died at the age of 24, she was canonised only two years later. Her children attended her canonisation.

Elizabeth is patan saint of many things; some of them include bakers, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, widows, and young brides.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!