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November 17

St Elizabeth of Hungary outside of Budapest Hungary Church - November 17

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary or
Elizabeth of Thuringia

Princess, Mother, Widow

(1207 – 1231)

“How can I, a wretched creature, continue to wear a crown of earthly dignity, when I see my King Jesus Christ crowned with thorns?”

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life  

Elizabeth was born in 1207 to King Andrew II of Hungary and Queen Gertrude in Pressburg, Hungary (now Bratislava, Slovakia). Her mother’s sister was Saint Hedwig. Elizabeth, together with her sister and three brothers, spent only the first four years of her childhood at the Hungarian court. She liked recited her prayers faithfully and already showed special attention to the poor, whom she helped with a kind word or an affectionate gesture.

In 1213, her mother, Gertrude was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans.

Betrothed at Age 4 – Married at Age 14

Elizabeth was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Ludwig of Thuringia (in central Germany) and sent to live at his father’s court. In 1221, they were married when she was fourteen and he was twenty-one. She loved him deeply and bore him three children, Hermann, Sophie, and Gertrude.

Religious Influences

In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived. It was also about this time that the priest Konrad von Marburg gained considerable influence over Elizabeth when he was appointed as her confessor. Still just a teenager, Elizabeth not only learned about the ideals of Francis of Assisi, but started to live them. Elizabeth diligently practiced works of mercy: she would give food and drink to those who knocked at her door, she procured clothing, paid debts, cared for the sick and buried the dead.  Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Coming down from her castle, daily she would take bread, meat, flour and other food to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate.

This behaviour was reported to her husband, who not only was not displeased but answered her accusers, “So long as she does not sell the castle, I am happy with her!”.

With her profound sensitivity, Elizabeth saw the contradictions between the faith professed and Christian practice. She could not bear compromise. Once, on entering a church on the Feast of the Assumption, she took off her crown, laid it before the Crucifix and, covering her face, lay prostrate on the ground. When her mother-in-law reprimanded her for this gesture, Elizabeth answered: “How can I, a wretched creature, continue to wear a crown of earthly dignity, when I see my King Jesus Christ crowned with thorns?”.

Miracle of the Roses

Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her miracle of the roses. While taking bread to the poor in secret, she met her husband Ludwig on a hunting party. Ludwig, to quell suspicions that she was stealing treasure from the castle, asked her to reveal what was hidden under her cloak. In that moment, her cloak fell open and white and red roses could be seen, which proved to Ludwig that God’s protecting hand was at work

Christ in Bed

Elizabeth laid the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her mother-in-law, who was horrified, told this immediately to Ludwig on his return. When Ludwig removed the bedclothes in great indignation, at that instant “Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.”

Her Husband’s Death

In September 1227, just a few weeks before the Elizabeth’s daughter Gertrude was born, tragedy struck her happy marriage. On route to join the Sixth Crusade, Ludwig died of a fever in Italy. At age twenty, Elizabeth was a widow with soon to be three children. With the aid of Konrad, Elizabeth received the value of her dowry in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day among the poor.

Following his death, her husband’s family, especially his brother Henry, viewed Elizabeth as squandering the royal purse and threw her out. Her royal aunt and uncle made a castle available to her and set about making plans for a second marriage for her. However, she followed God’s calling to renounce her position and enter into a new life.

Third Order Franciscan

On Good Friday 1228, Elizabeth became a Third Order Franciscan, sold all that she had, and worked to support her children. She settled into a small house that she herself had built and attached a hospital to it, which she founded in honor of St. Francis. Here she spent the few remaining years of her life caring for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Penance, prayer, and practical charity filled her hours.

Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine – stricken Germany, led her to become patron of bakers. St. Elizabeth is also the patron saint of countesses, the death of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, Catholic charities, widows, and young brides.

Her Death

Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth’s strength was consumed by her charitable labors. Elizabeth passed away at the age of twenty-four, a time when life to most human beings is just opening, on November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Germany .

Born :                  1207 in in Pressburg, Hungary (now Bratislava, Slovakia)

Died:                   November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Germany

Beatified:           Unknown

Canonized:        May 27, 1235 by Pope Gregory IX

Feast Day:          November 17

Patron Saint:     Against In-Law Problems; Archdiocese of Jaro, Philippines; Bakers, Beggars; Brides; Charitable Societies; Charities; Dying Children; Exiles; Falsely Accused People; Homeless People; People Ridiculed For Their Piety; Thuringia (modern day Germany); Widows

Source:

Reflection

Even a royal marriage did not save Saint Elizabeth from facing the challenges of family relationships, particularly with her husband and his family. Saint Elizabeth faced opposition and criticism for her commitment to the poor and her unconventional choices for a royal. She chose to live a life of simplicity and poverty, giving away her wealth to aid the poor. Her life reminds us that even in complex family situations, it is possible to live out one’s faith and values with love and compassion.

What family challenges do you face today? Offer up these challenges to God to provide the strength needed to overcome obstacles and to rely on our faith to guide our actions.

 

Prayers

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, you lived a life of compassion, humility, and unwavering faith. We turn to you in prayer, seeking your intercession and guidance.

You showed us the way of selfless service, caring for the poor and vulnerable with love and kindness. Teach us to recognize the dignity of every person and to find opportunities to help those in need, just as you did.

Your life was marked by humility and a deep connection with God through prayer. Help us to deepen our own faith, drawing closer to our Creator in times of joy and sorrow.

In moments of adversity in family relationships, you demonstrated courage and resilience in your commitment to charity. Inspire us to stand firm in our convictions, even when faced with challenges, and to continue to do what is right and just.

We ask for your intercession and blessings as we strive to live lives of faith, compassion, and service to others.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Aleteia – How hospital overflow was handled by St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. November 19 St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow

Catholic Exchange – Raising Daughters Like St. Elizabeth of Hungary in a Disney Princess World by Constance T. Hull

Catholic Ireland – Nov 17 – St Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)

Catholic News Agency – St. Elizabeth of Hungary Feast day: Nov 17

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Saints of the Day – Elizabeth of Hungary, Queen by Katherine I Rabenstein

Franciscan Media – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

New Advent – Bihl, M.,  St. Elizabeth of Hungary. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary’s Story

Saint for a Minute – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Saints for Sinners – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)

 

Video Link

St. Elizabeth of Hungary – YouTube (Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network – USA)

Saint of the Week: St. Elizabeth of Hungary – YouTube (The True Enlightenment!)