St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth was born in 1207 to King Andrew II and Queen Gertrude of Hungary. Her mother died when she was six years old and she turned her heart to trust in God.

At fourteen, Elizabeth married Ludwig whom she loved very much. They had three children.

Ludwig rose in power, and became an important man of royalty in Thuringia. Elizabeth spent more of her time serving the poor and attending to her prayer life than her courtly duties, but Ludwig continued to support her. Elizabeth refused to wear the fancy gowns and preferred plain clothes. She also at simple food and gave away most of her possessions.

Elizabeth and Ludwig were very generous with the poor. They personally gave so much bread and essentials away each day, Elizabeth was sometimes falsely accused of stealing from the royal storehouses to support her work. So she started delivering bread and goods in secret. One time, she was caught giving away bread but when Ludwig opened her cloak to check, the bread had turned to roses.

Flood and disease visited their kingdom when Elizabeth was 19 and she rose to the occasion. In order to expand her care of the growing number of the sick, she established a hospital. The next year, Ludwig died of fever as he traveled to the Crusades. Elizabeth was heartbroken. She vowed never to remarry and lived the rest of her life as if she were a nun. She lived in a small hut near her new hospital where she served daily.

She died at age 24 on November 17, 1231. Soon after, many miracles were reported near her gravesite, leading to her quick canonization in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX. Her eldest child succeeded his father in ruling Thuringia with his uncle as his regent. Her second child married and remained a noblewoman. Her youngest joined the religious life and became abbess of a German convent. She is the patron saint of all Catholic charities.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.

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