17 November 2009
Elizabeth of Hungary, tertiary Franciscan
Saint Elizabeth was born on 7 July 1207 at Presburg, Hungary, the daughter of Alexander II, King of Hungary. At the age of four, the child Elizabeth was sent to the court of Landgrace of Thringia, where she was betrothed to his infant son. As she grew in age, Elizbeth's piety grew as well.
In 1221, at the age of 14, Elizabeth was married to Prince Louis of Thuringia. However, despite her royal setting, Saint Elizabeth lived an austere life of simplicity and penance, devoting herself to works of charity. Some histories say that Prince Louis, her husband, was also inclined to religion and encouraged Elizabeth in her virtue. Other histories say that Prince Louis and his family were opposed to her charitable care for the poor. What is uncontroverted, however, is Elizabeth's charity itself.
Elizabeth and Louis had three children before he died from the plague. After his death, Elizabeth left the royal court, made provisions for the care of her children, and in 1228 renounced the world becoming a tertiary of Saint Francis.
During this period, Elizabeth was under the authority of her confessor, a priest and inquisitor named Konrad von Marburg. Konrad was known for his harsh methods, and some histories report that his treatment of Saint Elizabeth was quite harsh, including physical beatings as punishment. Reported in some historical accounts, it was Konrad that ordered Saint Elizabeth to send away her children. However, Saint Elizabeth made vows of obedience to Konrad and followed those vows.
Saint Elizabeth built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and devoted herself to the care of the sick until her death at the young age of 24 on 17 November 1231. Her gifts of food to the poor and a large gift of grain to famine stricken Germany earned her the title of patron saint to bakers.
After Elizabeth's death, reports of miracles occurring at her grave, especially miracles of healing, became widely reported and led to Elizabeth's quick canonization less than four years later.
Saint Elizabeth's relics, including her skull which is adorned with the gold crown that she wore in life, are preserved at the convent of Saint Elizabeth in Vienna, Austria. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on 27 May 1235.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides.
You taught Saitn Elizabeth to recognize
and serve Christ, in the poor.
Grant, through her intercession,
that we may always lovingly serve the needy
and the oppressed.