Saints Series: Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Elizabeth was born July 7, 1207 in Hungary and died at the age of 24 on November 17, 1231 in Thuringia, which is now a state in modern-day Germany. Elizabeth was born as a princess and as a result she had an arranged marriage and was betrothed to a nobleman named Louis when she was four years old. They were raised together in the Wartburg Castle. She was married at 14 to Louis who became the landgrave of Thuringia. A landgrave/landgravine is a noble title from the Holy Roman Emperor. Elizabeth and Louis’ marriage seems to have been a happy one. They had three children together.

While Elizabeth was living with Louis, she met some Franciscan monks who taught her about the ideals of St. Francis (who was still living at that time). After hearing about these ideals, Elizabeth started living by them. Louis was happy his wife’s charitable endeavors and thought that they would bring eternal rewards. On the other hand some of their nobles thought that she was a little strange. She would wear plain clothing and would go to Mass barefoot. She would give the poor money, even if it meant selling some of her clothes for the money. Her most well-known miracle has to do with bread that she was smuggling out to the poor turning to roses. The Story goes that she was smuggling bread out of the kitchen under her cloak when she met some people who didn’t agree with her feeding the poor. They demanded that she open her cloak so that they could see what she had. When she did, all of the bread had turned into roses.

Elizabeth was widowed at the age of 20 when Louis died of a fever as he travel to join the sixth crusade. She got her dowry back and used it to open a hospital when she and others could care for the poor. She is said to have joined the Franciscan Order at the third level, which means she made the vows but didn’t have to live in a religious community, such as a nunnery. She died four years later.

How can the example of St. Elizabeth shape our lives?   When I was in undergrad, we celebrated St. Lizzy’s week when we would collect money for local non-profits. One year I think we had a truck from Feeding My Starving Children come and we all would go in and pack meals that would be sent to other countries.

This is part of a monthly series of newsletter articles written by Intern Bridget.