top of page

The Catholic Defender: St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Jesus warns, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God." But just two versus later, Jesus says, "With men this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible." In other words, it is not money that is the real issue, it is the love of it. St. Elizabeth is an example of how God can use someone who is wealthy because they place him first over all their blessings.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, was born in Hungary on July 7, 1207 to the Hungarian King Andrew II and Gertrude of Merania. She was born of noble birth. From her young age, she was given the prestige of royalty.

At age four, St. Elizabeth was sent to the court of Landgrave of Thuringia to prepare her for a marriage arrangement from her father. She was to be educated for such a marriage.

When St. Elizabeth was six years old, in 1213, her mother, Gertrude was murdered by Hungarians who had been quarreling with Germans who had not accepted her nationality coming from Merania.

From this time forward, St. Elizabeth placed the Virgin Mary as her spiritual Mother leading her to prayer which offered her peace in difficult times.

In 1221, St. Elizabeth was married to Ludwig whom she grew to love with all her heart. She bore three children, one of which became an abbess of a German convent. That speaks loudly of St. Elizabeth.

Through all this time, St. Elizabeth continued to grow in her holy Catholic Faith placing prayer as her strength. Her desire to serve the poor throughout the province of Thuringia was supported by her husband, Ludwig who admired his beautiful wife.

St. Elizabeth had a special beauty surrounding her that was manifested holiness, her husband truly loved her. She practiced penance living an austere life grounded in the Gospel. Charity was the seal of her governing which the people lifted her up in prayer.

From the time she was 16 years old, St. Elizabeth was captivated with Franciscan friars teaching the simple way of life giving up all possessions to follow Christ.

She became a great admirer of St. Francis of Assisi.

In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived in Thuringia and taught 16-year-old Elizabeth all about Francis of Assisi.

When traveling out among the people, St. Elizabeth was known to wear modest clothing as she feed the hungry throughout the countryside.

In 1226, a terrible flood brought hunger and disease through Thuringia which caused much suffering. St. Elizabeth gave away much of her royal clothing and sold them to care for the victims and ultimately built hospitals helping a thousand people per day. That is triage!

St. Elizabeth again felt the sword of sorrow as her beloved Ludwig dies as a result of illness he received helping the poor. The Lord gave them happiness and joy for a number of years, it was truly a fairy tale marriage. With this tragic event, St. Elizabeth vowed never to marry again and to live the life of a religious vocation.

Because of her beauty, many sought her hand in marriage but she took her vows before God seriously. She was obedient to her confessor, Father Conrad of Marburg who maintained a high standard of holiness for her.

By today's standards, it would be abusive as she received beatings and her children were sent away. Obviously, her family members were pressuring for her to remarry.

In 1228, St. Elizabeth became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis finding another hospital in honor of St. Francis. She acted as a nurse helping the sick which ultimately exposed her to these illnesses and she became sick.

After a short period of illness, St. Elizabeth at age 24, died on November 17, 1231 in Marburg. Her faith totally intact. Her love for God was above all else as she ministered to the sick as her Husband Ludwig had done.

St. Elizabeth became known for the miracle of roses. During one of her many trips helping the poor, her husband asked her in front of envoys representing the King accusing her of concealing bread taken from the castle. As she revealed the contents of her cloak, white and red roses were seen. Ludwig took this sign as God's protection. Even St. Elizabeth's brother-in-law attempted to find her guilty of taking things from the castle only to find more flowers.

Once, a leper was found lying in her husbands bed, Ludwig's mother discovered that Elizabeth had allowed the leper to rest. Ludwig's mother was not happy with what she witnessed and told her son of what she saw. In removing the blankets and sheets, Ludwig exclaimed, "Almighty God opened the eyes of my soul," instead of a leper, I saw Christ crucified stretched upon the bed."

After her death, miraculous healings began to occur where people were praying at her grave site near her hospital. Many healings took place between 1232 to 1235 which were witnessed by her companions, the population which inspired Pope Gregory IX canonizing her on May 27, 1235.

St. Elizabeth's body was laid in a gold shrine which her body was scattered by her descendents because the Calvinists sought to destroy and profane the Church.

St. Elizabeth's feast day is celebrated on November 17 and she is the patron saint of bakers; beggars; brides; charities; death of children; homeless people; hospitals; Sisters of Mercy; widows.

St. Elizabeth is often depicted with a basket of bread to show her devotion for the poor and hungry. She is also painted in honor of the "Miracle of Roses" and "Crucifix in the Bed."

St. Elizabeth has been praised by Pope Benedict XVI as a "model for those in authority." My oldest Son, Nathan was born on November 17, 1980.

"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me." Jesus (Matthew 19:21)

bottom of page