November 16, 2017

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Her Life and Miracles

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Optional Memorial - November 16th 

There are people who make a lasting impact on the world even though their earthly lives are very short. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary or Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia was just such a person. Both a king’s daughter and a king’s wife, her love and care for the poor led her to be beloved by the common people during her life, and resulted in her canonization a mere four years after her death.

Elizabeth, daughter of the king of Hungary, was born in 1207. In 1221, at the age of 14, she married Louis IV of Thuringia (Germany), He ascended the Thuringian throne at the age of 16. Over the next six years Elizabeth would bear him three children. The couple were deeply in love and very devoted to each other. Louis fully supported his young wife in her spiritual life and in her prodigious efforts aiding the destitute. This included selling state treasures to assist the needy.

Tragically, in 1227, Louis died on the Sixth Crusade after promising Emperor Frederick II he would take up the cross and accompany him to the Holy Land. Elizabeth was devastated. When an uncle arranged a second marriage for her the following year, she fled to the city of Marburg where she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. There, she built a hospital for the indigent and the sick with money from her dowry. She continued to minister to the poor until her death in 1231.

Miracles attributed to her during her life and at her grave coupled with the love ordinary people felt for her led Pope Gregory IX to canonize her in 1235. Popular piety records two miracles of note. In the miracle of the roses, a young Elizabeth hides in her shawl food for the indigent from her family's' table. Upon entering the slums, she is met by her future husband (Louis) who inquires as to what she is hiding. Embarrassed, Elizabeth opens her mantle to reveal a bouquet of roses.

Another miracle associated with Elizabeth tells how she cared for the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her shocked mother-in-law, informed Louis on his return. When Louis unwrapped the bandages from the convalescing figure on the bed, "Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed."

Prayer for St. Elizabeth of Hungary's Intercession

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is the patron of Catholic charities and bakers. Almighty ever-loving God, by whose gift St. Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with all unfailing charity the needy and afflicted. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. St. Elizabeth, inspired by your example, may we duly love the Christ in others.

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