Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Feast of Elizabeth, Princess of Hungary, 1231

I remember reading a historical novel about Elizabeth of Hungary when I was in high school. I experienced her story as both inspiring and very memorable and she has been one of my favorite saints ever since. What I didn't know, however, until I read about it today is that she is the patroness of the Third Order Franciscans which actually makes a lot of sense given that she was devoted to the poor and sacrificed most of her material goods in order to help them and then became a Third Order Franciscan herself after the death of her husband.

Her own spiritual director said this about her:
Elizabeth was a lifelong friend of the poor and gave herself entirely to relieving the hungry. She ordered that one of her castles should be converted into a hospital in which she gathered many of the weak and feeble. She generously gave alms to all who were in need, not only in that place but in all the territories of her husband's empire. She spent all her own revenue from her husband's four principalities, and finally she sold her luxurious possessions and rich clothes for the sake of the poor.

Twice a day, in the morning and in the evening, Elizabeth went to visit the sick. She personally cared for those who were particularly repulsive; to some she gave food, to others clothing; some she carried on her own shoulders, and performed many other kindly services. Her husband, of happy memory, gladly approved of these charitable works. Finally, when her husband died, she sought the highest perfection; filled with tears, she implored me to let her beg for alms from door to door. Good Friday of that year, when the altars had been stripped, she laid her hands on the altar in a chapel in her own town, where she had established the Friars Minor, and before witnesses she voluntarily renounced all worldly display and everything that our Savior in the gospel advises us to abandon. Even then she saw that she could still be distracted by the cares and worldly glory which had surrounded her while her husband was alive. Against my will she followed me to Marburg. Here in the town she built a hospice where she gathered together the weak and the feeble. There she attended the most wretched and contemptible at her own table.

Apart from those active good works, I declare before God that I have seldom seen a more contemplative woman.

By the way, Desmond Tutu is a Third Order Franciscan.

1 comment:

  1. i didn't know that about tutu...interesting...i too spoke of E of H today - but not quite in the same vein :)


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