Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Icon
December 19th 2012
Watercolor, Ink and Gold Leaf"As in heaven Your will is punctually performed, so may it be done on earth by all creatures, particularly in me and by me." - Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
This was a Christmas gift for a very dear friend of mine whose confirmation saint is St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary (July 7th 1207 - November 17th 1231) was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary. She was born in Hungary and lived there until the age of four, when she was betrothed to Blessed Ludwig (Louis) of Thuringia. She was brought up by Ludwig's family in Thuringia and grew up alongside her future husband. Even as young children they had a great affection for each other. He would often call her "little sister" and she called him "big brother," and he also came to her defense when his siblings or other their peers picked on her.
Elizabeth and Ludwig were married in Wartburg Castle in 1220 (Elizabeth was 14 at the time and Ludwig was 20). Their first child, Hermann, was born in May of 1222. His sister Sophie was born in 1224, and another sister named Gertrud was born in 1227. The new-found Franciscan Order had a large impact on St. Elizabeth's life. Inspired by their love for the poor, she became even more devoted to serving the poor by building hospitals and even ministering to the sick personally. She was often engaged in charitable endeavors and fed the hungry and sold many of her own possessions to feed and clothe the poor that came to her. Ludwig was very fond of his young wife, and even though his family often complained about her, he still defended her and her love of the poor.
There are two famous stories associated with St. Elizabeth of Hungary. One is called "the Miracle of the Roses" where, while St. Elizabeth was going out to give bread to the poor, either her husband Ludwig or his brother Heinrich approached her and asked her what she had under her cloak. Upon lifting the cloak, a shower of roses fell from her arms. Another story says that while Ludwig was out, St. Elizabeth was caring for a leper, and since all of the beds in her hospital were filled, she had the leper brought to her own room and put up on their bed. When Ludwig found out, at first he was indignant, but when he lifted the covers Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.
Ludwig promised the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II that he would join the Sixth Crusade. However, he only got as far as Otranto, Italy, when a plague broke out and he died from fever on September 11th, 1227 at the age of 27. In a delirium from the fever, he said that his room seemed to be filled with doves and he said: "I must fly away with these white doves." St. Elizabeth, when she heard the news that he was dead, was completely devastated, saying, "He is dead, and now the whole world is dead to me too." His body was brought back to Germany and entombed at the Abbey of Reinhardsbrunn. Elizabeth was 20 at the time.
After Ludwig's death, his family turned on her. Ludwig's brother, Heinrich Raspe removed her children from the succession and became Landgrave of Thuringia. She went to live in Marburg and a priest named Konrad von Marburg became her confessor. It was at this time that she made solemn vows and became a Third Order Franciscan, devoting herself completely to the care of the poor. She died at the age of 24 at Marburg and was canonized four years later on May 28th, 1235.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!The Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary is on November 17th.