February 26

St. Isabel of France

St. Isabel of France

When they lived:

St. Isabel of France, also known as Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, lived from July 4, 1271 – July 4, 1336.

Where they lived:

Isabel was born in the Kingdom of Aragon (modern-day Spain) and later became the Queen Consort of Portugal through her marriage to King Denis.

Notable world events during the time of their life:

  • The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453): This conflict between the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of France spanned over a century and had a significant impact on Europe, shaping alliances, borders, and power dynamics.
  • The Black Death (1347-1351): The bubonic plague swept across Europe, Asia, and Africa, resulting in an estimated 75-200 million deaths. This devastating pandemic led to social, economic, and cultural upheavals.
  • The Renaissance (14th-17th centuries): A period of profound cultural, artistic, and intellectual transformation, the Renaissance marked the revival of classical learning, exploration, and advancements in various fields, including science, art, and literature.
  • The Avignon Papacy (1309-1376): Also known as the Babylonian Captivity, this period saw the papal seat moved from Rome to Avignon, France, leading to a series of events that affected the Catholic Church’s authority and organization.
  • Marco Polo’s Travels (1271-1295): The renowned explorer’s journey along the Silk Road to China opened up new avenues of trade, cultural exchange, and geographical knowledge between Europe and Asia.
  • The Invention of the Printing Press (c. 1440): Although slightly after Isabel’s time, Johannes Gutenberg’s invention revolutionized the spread of information and contributed to the democratization of knowledge.

Their patronage:

St. Isabel of France is widely venerated as the patron saint of peace, brides, and victims of adultery. She is also considered a protector against jealousy and death of children. Isabel’s life is particularly fascinating due to her dedication to charitable works, her commitment to peacekeeping efforts, and her personal piety.

Early Life

She was born a French Princess to Louis VII and Blanche of Castile. Her father died when she was only two years old, resulting in her mother being solely responsible for her education.

Marriage, or Was It?

She was later betrothed to Hugh X of Lusignan, and the marriage contract was to be signed a few years later. This was by virtue of the treaty of Vendome; hence, she refused to celebrate the formal wedding as she was determined to remain a virgin.

Her Faith and Works

As expected of her, she pursued traditional feminine interests such as embroidery, but she also had an interest in working in priestly investments and requested spiritual direction from the Franciscans. All this resulted in her becoming more devoted to the Lord.

Even as a young girl, she was known for being fervent in prayer and fasting. Her study of Latin enabled her to pray the liturgy of the hours, which was in Latin.

Every day when she would eat her dinner, she would seat poor people at her table and serve them. She would visit the sick and the poor. She also experienced ecstasies at several points in her life, including near the end of her life.

St. Isabel had a great understanding of humility and sought forgiveness; therefore, every time she received communion herself, she would get on her knees and beg for forgiveness of the few servants that she retained.

St. Isabel refused to live a life of luxury and refused the lavish meals that were offered to her; instead, she preferred meager rations and donated what she saved to the poor. However, she was often ill with stomach ailments that were worsened by her regular fasting.

In May 1254, she was allowed to retain some Franciscan friars as her special confessors, and she was very devoted to them.


She is the founder of the nunnery of Longchamp, which was established in 1256 in the west of Paris. In 1255, her brother King Louis began acquiring access to the necessary land after learning about his sister’s desire to form a community of sorores minors. The building was completed at the beginning of the year 1259.

The monastery was named the Convent of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the nuns were known as Sisters of the Humble Order of Servants of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.

Even though she never became a nun herself, Saint Isabelle lived at the convent in a separate room from the nuns, and she observed their rules in her own home.

She kept a discipline of silence for most of her days, and she retained her wealth because she was not a nun. This allowed her to continue supporting the poor and carrying out her duties as the superior of the nuns.

During the French Revolution, Longchamp Abbey was suppressed, and the building was up for sale in 1794, but no one was interested. This resulted in the empty building being demolished, and in 1857, the remaining walls were pulled down except for a single tower.

St. Isabelle died at Longchamp on February 23, 1270, and was buried in the Abbey church; however, her body was exhumed nine days after her burial, and apparently it showed no signs of decay. When she died, she was only 45 years old. Pope Leo X beatified her in 1521.

Her Legacy

Saint Isabelle is known as the Patroness of the sick. Her feast day is February 26, and she was declared a saint by Pope Innocent XII in 1696.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Isabel of France

  • She was the younger sister of St. Louis of France.
  • St. Isabelle consecrated her virginity and entire life to God.
  • She enjoyed tales of chivalry as well as devotional texts.
  • Once, the Pope wrote to her directly to encourage her to marry the
    king of Jerusalem for the good of Christendom, but her refusal to
    was so humble and wise that he acknowledged her desire to dedicate her
    life to God alone.
  • Even though she consecrated her virginity, she never actually
    became a nun.

Prayer to St. Isabel of France

Dear Lord, we thank You for giving us St. Isabel of France as an example of holiness. Help us to imitate the virtue she showed in her life from the time she was a young girl. St. Isabel of France, you were known to be pious and virtuous by others at court during your childhood. Though you were surrounded by the worldly concerns of courtly life, you were eager to dedicate your life to God. Please bring my petitions before God, Whom you served so eagerly! You grew in devotion and piety as you got older. You longed to devote yourself entirely to God as a consecrated virgin. Pray for me that I may grow in virtue each day of my life. Pray that I may be as eager to devote myself to God as you were. Please also pray for (mention your intentions here). St. Isabel of France, pray for us! In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.