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June 18

St Elizabeth of Schönau - June 18 (Morgan_Library_and_Museum,_New_York_City)

Saint Elizabeth of Schönau
Abbess, Mystic
(Around 1126 – 1164)

“I, a poor earthen vessel, say these things not of myself but through the Living Light. Those who desire to do the works of God . . . should put on the breast-plate of Faith, and be humble and poor, living as He did.”

Saint Elizabeth of Schönau

Her Early Years

Elizabeth, also known as Elizabeth of Sconauge or Elisabeth of Schönau, was born around 1126 in Bingen, Germany, to German nobility. From age of 12, Elizabeth displayed a deep devotion to the Catholic faith. She was raised and educated at the Schönau Benedictine double monastery near Bingen (16 miles northeast of Bonn, Germany). It was within the walls of this abbey that Elizabeth found her true home and spiritual calling, dedicating herself to a life of prayer, contemplation, and service to God.

Benedictine Nun

In 1147, Elizabeth took her vows as a Benedictine nun at the Schönau Benedictine abbey and remained there for the rest of her life. Earnest, observant, active-minded, Ezliabeth sought holiness for herself by great austerity, adding to the ill-health with which God afflicted her, the suffering of a hair shirt, an iron chain, and fasting of almost incredible rigor.

Mystical Experiences

In 1152, at the age of 26, Elizabeth began experiencing extraordinary mystical experiences. At first, these visions were contained to Sundays and Holy Days but later grew in frequency and clarity of meaning. One of Elizabeth’s most famous vision was one concerning Saint Ursula and the virgin martyrs.

She also received ecstasies and visions of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, and was granted the gift of prophecy. Her visions confirmed the bodily Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Elizabeth answered, in the minds of many, a long-standing question about Mary’s death and the fate of her soul and body. Elizabeth’s vision is a significant contribution to the renewed interest in the Virgin Mary’s Assumption to heaven. Alongside these mystical encounters, she also suffered intense attacks from demonic forces. Despite these hardships, Elizabeth persevered in her faith.

At the prompting of the abbey’s founder, Abbot Hildelin, she recorded some of her visions on wax tablets. These were sent to her brother, Egbert, who was a monk in Bonn, Germany. Later, he took the habit at Schönau and succeeded Hildelin as abbot in the same Benedictine monastery. He wrote her vita and three books of her visions using the tablets she wrote, supplemented by her oral explanations. These writings chronicled her encounters with divine entities, offering insights into heaven, hell, and the spiritual realm. They also provided guidance on living a virtuous and faithful life, drawing from her personal encounters and understanding of God’s will.

In a state of bodily prostration and mental activity, Elizabeth was inspired to utter prophecies of judgments to fall on the unfaithful shepherds of the Church, on the avarice, the worldlinoss, the selfishness in high places and low. She sent her warnings to bishops and archbishops. Elizabeth lifted up her testimony against the Pope on his throne, and against the most obscure among the clergy. With the earnestness of a prophet and the truth of a looking glass, Elizabeth denounced, rebuked, and called them to repentance.

Abbess

In 1157, Elizabet became Abbess of the nuns of Schönau under the supervision of Abbot Hildelin. This position she held under her death. During her time at the abbey, she developed a close friendship with Saint Hildegard von Bingen, a renowned mystic and writer.

As the years went by, Elizabeth’s health grew increasingly fragile, partly due to the strenuous periods of ecstasies and visions. Nevertheless, she continued to serve as a devoted member of the Schönau abbey community.

Her Death

Elizabeth died on June 18, 1164, at the age of 38, in Bingen, Germany. She was buried in the church of Saint Florin at the Schönau abbey. However, during the tumultuous period of the Thirty Years’ War, Swedish forces destroyed most of her relics in 1632. Nevertheless, some remaining relics of Saint Elizabeth were enshrined in the parish church in Schönau.

Born :                  Around 1126 in Bingen, Germany

Died:                    June 18, 1164 in Bingen, Germany

Beatified:            Not Known

Canonized:         Never formally Canonized, but added to the Roman Martyrology in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII

Feast Day:           June 18

Patron Saint:      Against Temptations

Source:

Reflection 

Saint Elizabeth of Schönau shared the insights she received from her mystical experiences with others, offering spiritual guidance and direction to those who sought her counsel. Her wisdom and discernment serve as a reminder of the importance of seeking spiritual guidance from those who are experienced in the spiritual life, and of the value of discernment in our own spiritual journeys. While you may not have the profound mystical experiences like Saint Elizabeth of Schönau, we all have gained varying spiritual experiences on our holy journey to Jesus.

What spiritual experiences and wisdom can share with others you encounter today to help their spiritual journey?

Prayers

Saint Elizabeth of Schönau,

You were a visionary who experienced the depths of God’s love and wisdom and shared the mystical insights you received with others.

Intercede for us in prayer that we may be inspired by your example of holiness and devotion.

Guide us in our spiritual journey and grant us the wisdom and discernment to recognize God’s presence in our lives.

May we, like you, find holiness in the ordinary routines of life.

May our hearts may be open to receive the abundant graces God offers us each day.

Saint Elizabeth of Schönau, pray for us. Amen.

 

Saint Links 

A Dictionary Of Saintly Women, Volume 1 by Agnes B. C. Dunbar – Saint Elisabeth of Schönau

All Saints & Martyrs – Saint Elizabeth of Schönau

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler. Volume VI: June. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. St. Elizabeth of Sconauge, Virgin and Abbess

Catholic Fire – St. Elizabeth of Schönau, Benedictine Mystic

Catholic News Agency – St. Elizabeth of Schonau Feast day: Jul 18

Catholic Online – St. Elizabeth of Schonau

CatholicSaints.Info – Saints of the Day – Elizabeth of Schönau – by Katherine I Rabenstein

New Advent – Mershman, F. (1909). St. Elizabeth of Schönau. In The Catholic Encyclopedia.

RC Spirituality (Uncle Eddy) – St Elizabeth of Schönau

Saints, Feast, Family – Saint Elisabeth of Schönau’s Story

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Elizabeth of Schonau (c.1130-1164)

Video Link

St. Elisabeth of Schönau: Visions and Virtue – YouTube (Awaken The Saint)