Patron Saint of our Parish
St. Elizabeth was born in Hungary in 1207, the daughter of Alexander II, King of Hungary. At the age of four she was sent for education to the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia, to whose infant son she was betrothed. As she grew in age, her piety also increased by leaps and bounds. In 1221, she married Louis of Thuringia and in spite of her position at court began to lead an austerely simple life, practiced penance, and devoted herself to works of charity.
Her husband was himself much inclined to religion and highly esteemed her virtue, encouraging her in her exemplary life. They had three children when tragedy struck – Louis was killed while fighting with the Crusaders. After his death, Elizabeth left the court, made arrangements for the care of her children, and in 1228, renounced the world, becoming a tertiary of St. Francis. She built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg and devoted herself to the care of the sick until her death at the age of 24 in 1231. St. Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, death of children, falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows, and young brides. Her symbols are alms, flowers, bread, the poor, and a pitcher.
Did you know that the stained glass over the choir loft is actually a brief history of Our Patroness, St. Elizabeth?
The charismata of St. Elizabeth (as symbolized in the rose window)
FAITHFULNESS (Wedding rings)
[some possible connections: (Family Life) pre-cana, marriage prep, widow, youth min, family mass…]
In a time when marriage was scarcely considered a path to holiness, Elizabeth and her husband Ludwig live out what they recognize as a vocation by supporting one other in the praise and service of God. Faithful to her calling, Elizabeth expresses her love for God through her love for her husband, children, and neighbors. Married at 14, a mother at 15, and a widow at 20, Elizabeth has a particular concern for children, young mothers and mothers-to-be, as well as the challenges of widowhood.
COMPASSION (Crown of thorns)
[some possible connections: (Service to the Sick and Dying) consolation, EMs to homebound/hospital, compassionate calling, bereavement, divorced and beyond, HiHi…]
Although her brief life is not without sorrow and suffering, Elizabeth has a particular capacity to find joy and serenity in the midst of her personal trials. But it is in the suffering of others that she is able to see the crucified Christ. Not unlike Francis of Assisi, the gift of compassion enables Elizabeth to recognize Jesus in the marginalized of society – including lepers, the sick, and the dying. She builds a hospital and she herself personally cares for many.
HUMILITY (Upside-down crown)
[some possible connections: (Building God’s Kingdom) stewardship, evangelization, journey to justice, respect life, religious ed, adult faith formation and evangelization…]
“In the presence of God and of my King, Jesus Christ, how can I, a vile and despicable creature, appear before him crowned with the insignia of royal dignity?” With these words, Elizabeth removes her crown while at Mass, demonstrating that she holds the Kingdom of God above her own kingdom. She embraces a life of poverty and detachment, relying on God alone. After the death of her husband, expulsion from her castle, and separation from her children, her great humility enables Elizabeth to continue building God’s Kingdom through her service to the needy as a simple Franciscan.
CHARITY (Basket of food)
[some possible connections: (Love of the Poor) St Vincent de Paul, outreach, blood drive, thanksgiving to Christmas assistants …]
Freely distributing her husband’s wealth (with his approval), giving away her fine clothes, and using the money from her dowry in service to the those in need all exemplify Elizabeth’s commitment to directly serve the poor in every way she could. Although her charity is criticized by those in power and by certain relatives, Elizabeth never ceases to find joy in giving alms.
SPIRITUALITY (Cross in the center and the Franciscan cord)
[some possible connections: (Prayer) men’s ministry, liturgy, choir, Eucharistic adoration, Rosary soc..].
Centered in Christ, Elizabeth’s spirituality is the vehicle through which God’s graces flow in and through her to others. She is devoted to prayer and meditation, the Mass, and sacraments. Even as a young bride, she awakens in the middle of the night and prays at the foot of her bed. Her profession as (what today we would call) a Secular Franciscan serves as a unifying thread (or, in this case, cord). Because she is one with Jesus in prayer, she is able to live out the Spirit’s gifts of faithfulness, compassion, humility, and charity.
Go here for a slide show explanation of this as well as the other stained glass in our church.
St. Elizabeth and Perfect Joy – This essay is part of the ongoing series of reflections during the 800th anniversary year of her birth.