17 November 2010

17 November - Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Today, in the General Calendar, is the feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231), daughter of Andrew II of Hungary and wife of Landgrave Ludwig IV of Thuringia.

A pious woman from her earliest years, who took the admonition from Our Lord "What you do for the least of these, you do for me" very seriously.  She gave away bread from the royal kitchens, established a hospital to care for the indigent sick, and nursed them herself, sewed winding sheets in which to bury the indigent dead and attended their burials, and constantly thought on the poverty of Our Lord.  Her husband and protector dying when she was 20, she embraced a life of hardship, and died at the age of 24.

She was and is a very popular saint, as attested by this list of her patronages from Saints.SQPN.com:
  • against in-law problems
  • against the death of children
  • against toothache
  • bakers
  • beggars
  • brides
  • charitable societies
  • charitable workers
  • charities
  • countesses
  • exiles
  • falsely accused people
  • hoboes
  • homeless people
  • hospitals
  • lacemakers
  • lace workers
  • nursing homes
  • nursing services
  • people in exile
  • people ridiculed for their piety
  • tertiaries
  • tramps
  • widows
  • Sisters of Mercy
  • Teutonic Knights
  • Erfurt, Germany, diocese of
  • Jaro, Philippines, archdiocese of
You can read here the story of Saint Elizabeth as told in the Golden Legend.  It is rather depressing, and I have my own thoughts about the sanctity of "Master Conrad", but no doubt it was considered edifying.  Still, body and mind can take only so much abuse before it gives up; I'm not surprised that she died young, only that she lived to the ripe old age of 24.

A lovely prayer for today would be the Litany of St. Elizabeth.

One charming legend relates that one night, as Saint Elizabeth was taking bread from the castle kitchens to give to the poor, her husband stopped her and asked what she carried in her apron.  She opened her cloak and revealed an apron that was full of roses instead of bread.

A good way to honor Saint Elizabeth, would be a contribution to your local soup kitchen or Saint Vincent de Paul Society.  Your contribution can be money, or food, or just your time in picking up donations, stocking, cooking and serving, or distributing.  As in Saint Elizabeth's day, there is a lot of need out there, and even one person's help is appreciated.