St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Born 7 July 1207, in modern-day Slovakia, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary isalso known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. She is the patron saint ofhospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles,homeless people, lace-makers, and widows.
She is also the patron saint of the city of Kosice (Slovakia), Bogota,the Third Order of Saint Francis, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Bogotá,Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Jaro and the Teutonic Order. SaintElizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and Gertrude ofMerania.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary had several notable European figures in herline of ancestry. For example, her mother’s sister was Hedwig of Andechsand the wife of Duke Heinrich I of Silesa. Other notable figures in herline of ancestry included Vladimir the Great of Kievan Rus.
She lived in the Castle of Posonium until the age of four. Soon afterher fourth birthday, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was brought to the courtof the rulers of Thuringia in central Germany. It was here that she wasbetrothed to Louis IV of Thuringia. This union was done to createpolitical alliances.
From that day on, saint Elizabeth of Hungary was raised by the court ofThuringia. At the age of fourteen, in 1221, she married Louis. They werehappily in love.
Saint Elizabeth’s Turn to the Church
In 1223, the Franciscan friars visited Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.During their visit, she learnt of the ideals of Francis of Assisi. Shealso started to live by these ideals and Louis seemed to not be opposedto this.
During this time, the priest and later inquisitor Konrad van Marburg,gained influence over Elizabeth. As a result of this, he became theconfessor to Elizabeth. In 1226, great floods and natural disastersbegan to plague Thuringia. As a result of the floods, Louis representedFrederick II at the Imperial Diet held in Cremora.
As Louis was absence at home, the control of the home was given to SaintElizabeth. It was here where her charitable work was more noticed by thepublic. She distributed alms to all parts of their territory, gave awaystate robes to the poor as well as state ornaments.
11 September 1227; the day that Saint Elizabeth’s beloved died in Italy.The loss of her beloved absolutely devastated her. Furthermore, therewere also several bitter arguments over the dowry owed to SaintElizabeth after the passing of her beloved. As a result of this, shemoved from the court at Wartburg to Marburg, Hesse.
Following the death of her beloved, Saint Elizabeth made solemn vows toKonrad. These vows were like those of a nun and included celibacy,complete obedience to Konrad as her confessor and spiritual dictator.This proved to be a mistake on the part of Elizabeth. Why?
This is because Konrad’s treatment of Elizabeth was harsh, with severalpunishments involving physical beatings and to send away her 3 children.Saint Elizabeth was also held somewhat hostage in Pottenstein, thecastle of her uncle. This was because this was in a vow to get Elizabethto remarry. Against this, she threatened to cut off her own nose sonobody would find her attractive enough to marry.
As part of her charitable work, with which she held so dear, shecontinued throughout this time to carry it out. Saint Elizabeth alsobuilt a hospital at Marburg. This hospital was for the poor and sick.She used the money from her dowry to build the hospital and stayed therewith her companions to look after patients that needed care.
The Death and Canonization of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
At the ripe young age of 24 in 1231, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary passedon in Marburg. She was canonized 24 May 1235, by Pope Gregory IX inItaly. Her body was laid to rest in a golden shrine, which can still beseen today in Marburg.
5 Interesting Facts About St. Elizabeth of Hungary
- Saint Elizabeth’s shrine was the absolute centre of German
pilgrimages during the 14th and 15th century.
- A church was built in her name, called The Elizabethkirche. It is
mainly a Protestant church but has spaces for Catholic worship.
- After her death, the Teutonic Order adopted Saint Elizabeth as
their secondary patroness.
- Saint Elizabeth of Hungary is remembered by the Church of England,
with her feast day celebrated on 18 November.
- After her death, it was reported that miracles happened at her
grave and at the hospital she built.
Prayer to St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Dear Saint Elizabeth, youwere always poor in spirit,most generous toward thepoor, faithful to yourhusband, and fullyconsecrated to your DivineBridegroom.Grant your help to widowsand widowers and keepthem faithful to theirheavenly Lord. Teach themto make use of their timein the service of God our Lord.Amen.