St. Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary
On November 19, we commemorate in our 12:10 p.m. Holy Communion Service, St. Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, part of the great “Communion of Saints”, our exemplars in faith and virtue. Our service of Holy Communion is open for public worship. The service will also be livestreamed on our Facebook at facebook.com/marinerschurchofdetroit
St. Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary (1207-1231), exemplified love of God and neighbor from an early age. Following an arranged betrothal, she was sent from her native Hungary to the court of Thuringia in Germany as a small child. One episode from her childhood recalls how, going to church in royal apparel and a bejeweled crown, she laid her crown at the foot of a crucifix, because she could not wear a crown when Christ was wearing thorns.
At age 14 she married Ludwig IV, Landgrave of Thuringia. He admired her virtue and piety, and was supportive of her charitable work caring for the poor and tending to the sick. Widowed at age 20, her family wished to arrange another marriage for her to strengthen their political position, which she protested. Eventually, after much conflict, her family relented to her desire to pledge herself to a life of chastity, devotion, and service to the poor and sick, allowing her use of her dowry towards these ends. St. Elizabeth joined the Third Order of the Franciscans (Among monastic orders, the first order consists of monks, the second order nuns, and the third order laymen and laywomen), who put into practice the virtues of humility, simplicity, and charity that she had excelled in her entire life. She is patroness of the Third Order of Franciscans.
St. Elizabeth died at the very young age of 24, and in addition to being the patroness of the Third Order of Franciscans, is also the Patron Saint of nurses and hospitals. As we enter the holidays, a time when we remember charitable works, and as we continue in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in which our hospitals and nurses are heroically giving so much in the service of others, St. Elizabeth’s remembrance is timely.
The entry for St. Elizabeth of Hungary from Alban Butler’s Lives of the Saints beautifully concludes with the following:
Perfection consists not essentially in mortification, but in charity; and he is most perfect who is most united to God by love. But humility and self-denial remove the impediments to this love, by retrenching the inordinate appetites and evil inclinations which wed the heart to creatures. The affections must be untied by mortification, and the heart set at liberty by an entire disengagement from the slavery of the senses, and all irregular affections. Then will a soul, by the assistance of grace, easily raise her affections to God, and adhere purely to him; and his holy love will take possession of them. A stone cannot fall down to its centre so long as the lets which hold it up are not taken away. So neither can a soul attain to the pure love of God, while the strings of earthly attachments hold her down. Hence the maxims of the gospel and the example of the saints strongly in culcate the necessity of dying to ourselves by humility, meekness, patience, self-denial, and obedience. Nor does any thing so much advance this interior crucifixion of the old man as the patient suffering of afflictions.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!
The Collect of the Day:
Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy servant Elizabeth: Grant to us, thy humble servants, the same faith and power of love; that, as we rejoice in her triumph, we may profit by her example; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For more on St. Elizabeth of Hungary, see the entry in Fr. Alban Butler’s Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints which can be found here: ecatholic2000.com/butler/vol11/november72.shtml
For the webpage at the Detroit Institute of Arts on the painting at the top of this post, see here: dia.org/art/collection/object/saint-elizabeth-hungary-54513
Did you know? Franz Liszt composed an oratorio about St. Elizabeth of Hungary! You can listen to it here: open.spotify.com/album/3XRKllvvumxSOX41kMHTj7?si=bauRAAN0RN2L3Zpyo1rqvw