St. Elizabeth of Hungary
(1207-1231)
St. Elizabeth is traditionally represented as dressed in rich clothes, bearing
in her top skirt-which is gathered up at the front to form an apron-a
profusion of red roses, while behind her back she holds a loaf of bread;
these are the symbols of her life, her inherited position as Queen of
Hungary, and the life she elected for herself of penance and asceticism.

The contrast between the two callings is everywhere apparent in the
twenty-four years which made up her life. Even before her wedding at the
age of thirteen to the saintly Louis of Thuringia, she was marked out for
suffering. Her mother-in-law tried to prevent the wedding out of jealousy
and constantly mocked Elizabeth for her charity and humility. She said that
she behaved 'like a tired old mule,' when she prostrated herself before the
crucifix, and that she was totally unfitted to be Queen. Her mortification
took the form of wearing the simplest clothes woven of coarse untreated
wool and of eating as little as possible; she refused to wear her jeweled
crown, when our Lord wore one of thorns. However, more important than
these mortifications was her constant and remarkable charity, which was
expressed in every detail of her life, inward and outward. When she was
not actively engaged in the business of government she spent all her time
either in prayer or visiting the poor and the sick, with the result that, after
her husband's death in 1227, his family accused her of squandering the
royal purse on the vagrants of the land.

Her husband's family gained control of the government and ousted her
from the palace with her four children, and Louis's brother declared himself
regent.  She refused the asylum offered by her father, but finally accepted
the hospitality of her own uncle, the bishop of Bamberg.  Eventually her
husband's comrades returned from the Crusades, entrusted with the duty
of protecting Elizabeth. This they were preparing to do when the usurper
changed his attitude to her; she was recalled and the rights of her son
recognized. She had few more years of life to run, but she spent them in
constant prayer and practical charity, and became universally loved and
revered. She died on November 19th, 1231, and was canonized 4 years
later by Pope Gregory IX.

By Ruth Sawyer
Stained Glass Image of St. Elizabeth - Picture taken at St. Elizabeths Church, Robinson, IL