St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Insights for married women
When I am tired of everything, it’s time for a good biography of a saint.
It’s that time of year again, when its not surprising to feel 'just sick of everything.' The winter is long, no matter where you live, and spring seems long off. I found a good biography of St. Elizabeth of Hungary by Nesta De Robeck. (I have always liked her books. She was a Third Order Franciscan, I think of her as similar to Mary Fabyan Windeatt, who was a third Order Dominican. Although, Miss de Robeck doesn’t write her books with children in mind.)
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, both the saint and the book, has answered a question of mine: How can a modern woman who is happily married learn from the example of the saints about being a saint while married? I greatly admire St. Jane de Chantal and St. Louise de Marillac. They were both married saints, but it seems that when each met their spiritual directors, who lead them to become foundresses of orders, each of them had already been widowed. St. Monica is another great married saint, but she was married to a pagan who was very difficult, so that wouldn’t be called a ‘happy marriage.’
Now I think I have found someone that I can look to for insights! St. Elizabeth of Hungary was happily married, behaved saintly while married, and she had three children.
Elizabeth’s marriage, as was the custom for the royalty of the time, was arranged for political advantage. As a child of four, she was sent to the castle of her future husband, so that she would learn the language and customs of the court which would call her Queen.
Even as a child she was holy. Although, she was taught all the fancy things she needed to know in order to become Queen, her friend Guda remembered “she directed all of her desires and actions towards God.” (27)
“When St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a little girl and used to play about the palace with her companions, she would always pick a spot near the chapel so that every now and the, without being noticed she might stop by the chapel door, kiss the lock, and say to Jesus, ‘My Jesus, I am playing, but I am not forgetting You. Bless me and my companions. I will see You again.”
Fr. Manelli, Jesus Our Eucharistic Lord, 78.
Despite Elizabeth having an arranged marriage, she still loved her husband Louis very much. She married at the age of 13 and she was six years his junior.
She would wear mourning garb when he went on ‘extended business trips.’
During her marriage, St. Elizabeth immersed herself in charitable works. She took care of lepers with her own hands, she assisted in the hospitals, and she gave to the poor. Her charity was embarrassing to the other members of the Court, but, her good husband gave her free reign in her charitable activities.
One day, Elizabeth even took a leper to her own bed to care for him. Her irate mother in law communicated her extreme displeasure over this behavior, to which the good husband, responding to grace, “he begged Elizabeth to bring in such sufferers more often for he had understood that it is the Lord Jesus in person who is received and cared for in His suffering members.” (66) What a worthy husband of a saint!
When she heard of his death(He died on the way to a crusade) she piteously cried out:
“Henceforth all earthly joys and honour are dead to me.” (91)
At her husband’s burial she said:
“Thou knowest that though I so deeply loved him, I do not regret the sacrifice which my dear one himself offered Thee, and which I too have offered Thee. I would give the whole world to have him back, and would willingly beg my bread with him, but I take Thee to witness that against Thy Will I would not recall him to life even if I could do it at the price of a single hair. Now I commende him and myself to Thy mercy. May Thy Will be accomplished in us.” (108 )
I think we can see that St. Elizabeth both, loved her husband greatly and also was living a virtuous life.
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