Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Written and researched by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska, B.F.A.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231) Feast Day is November 19th/May 6th.

Elizabeth was born to King Andrew II, King of Hungary; and Queen Gertrude of Meran. When Elizabeth was four years old, she went to live with Herman I, Landgrave/Duke of Thuringia, since she was betrothed to his son Herman. Herman and his father were fond of Elizabeth, but the dutchess, Sophia of Bavaria, and other ladies of her court though she was "too holy." They were not Elizabeth's friends. Then both he intended, Herman and her mother died. The king then decided that she should marry Louis, his second son. This was pleasing to Louis, but not the women.

Elizabeth fed the poor,which was what Jesus would have done, but the women thought she was giving away too much. The Duke died and his son Louis IV (b. 1200) was made the new duke of Thuringia. Louis was twenty-one and Elizabeth was fourteen when they were married. When Elizabeth was sixteen, her first child was born. They named him Herman. She also gave birth to three daughters, one was Sophia of Thuringia.

Louis and Elizabeth both loved God and tried to help the poor. One day Elizabeth brought a leper to the castle and let him sleep in Louis and Elizabeth's bed. The Queen was furious since leprosy was a very contagious illness. She told her son and he rushed into their room to tell her that she had endangered their entire family. When Louis got there, he found not a leper but the body of Christ crucified. Louis fell to his knees. Another time Elizabeth was seen going into the winter cold with a bulging apron. When he caught up to her, the food was changed into fragrant red and white roses. Louis and Elizabeth loved each other deeply, and complimented each other.

A Crusades was being organized to recover Palestine from the Muslims. Many of the knights were killed in battle. Louis planned to travel to the Holy Lands and Elizabeth was very worried. She fainted away at the news and pleaded with him not to go, afraid that he would never turn to her and their children. He explained to her that it was God's will and that he must join the other crusaders. Many soldiers were struck with the plague and Louis was dead.

Elizabeth was made a widow at age 20. Her four children and her were all alone and her son was to be the next duke. His uncle Henry, Louis' brother, was to then rule the land until Herman was old enough to take his father's place. However, Henry took the throne for himself. Elizabeth and her children were sent out of the castle in the cold winter air. Only two of her maids were allowed to leave with her. Henry was the cruel brother who always was jealous of his two older brothers. He made a law that forbid any villagers to take Elizabeth or any of her children out of the cold. Elizabeth founded a filthy shelter among the pigs for the first night. The next morning they planned to travel to a nearby Franciscian monastery. She became a tertiary there in 1228. Before this Elizabeth had to beg for food on the streets. St. Elizabeth founded the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and then devoted herself to the care of the sick.

When Elizabeth's family heard of her plight, they asked her to live with them. Then when Louis' men came back from the Crusades, they forced Henry to return the kingdom to Henry's son Herman. Elizabeth herself then became ill and died on November 17, 1231, at age 24. Four years after her death Elizabeth was canonized as a saint of the church.

SOURCES:

Heffernan, FSP, Eileen. Fifty-Seven Saints. Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1994.

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