19 November 2011

Elizabeth of Hungary (November 19)

Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922) The Charity of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

Marianne Stokes.  St. Elizabeth Spinning for the Poor

 Bartolome Esteban Murillo St. Elizabeth of Hungary Tending the Sick and Leprous, c1671-74

Born in Pressburg, Hungary, in 1207, Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II and his wife Gertrude.  Given as a bride in an arranged political marriage, Elizabeth became the wife of Louis of Thuringia in Germany at the age of 14. She had a spirit of Christian generosity and charity, and the home she established for her husband and three children in the Wartburg Castle at Eisenach was known for its hospitality and family love. Elizabeth often supervised the care of the sick and needy and even gave up her bed to a leper at one time. Widowed at the age of 20, she made provisions for her children and entered into an austere life as a nun in the Order of Saint Francis. Her self-denial led to failing health and an early death in 1231 at the age of 24. Remembered for her self-sacrificing ways, Elizabeth is commemorated through the many hospitals named for her around the world.  (from lcms.org)

  • Coloring page
  • Crown-themed activities.  I found this Crown Cake recipe via CatholicCuisine.com.  We will make paper crowns (just as my elder son loved playing soldier all day on St. Martin's, my daughter will enjoy playing Queen Elizabeth).
  • Acts of Mercy.  Visit a shut-in or ill friend or relative.  Bring baked bread to your neighbors. If you're crazy enough to shop for Thanksgiving today,  buy some items for your local pantry.  (Maybe call first to see what they need.)
Elizabeth of Hungary, while an epitome of charity, can be hard for Lutheran mothers to admire.  Instead of accepting her God-given vocation, she left her fatherless children to enter a convent.  That really bothered  me until I read more on her life.  Maybe I am making excuses for her, but these are some of my thoughts:  She was a girl of her times, and we all carry with us baggage and private heresies which God will thankfully rid us of at Judgment.  She had suffered a lot in her short life--her mother had been murdered, her oldest child died young, and she was widowed when she was 8 months pregnant.  Her father confessor, after her husband died, put pressure on her to enter the convent (and initially her children came with her).  This may have partly been for her protection, since many in court resented the royal couple's generosity, and the to-be king was only 5 years old.  A lot of histories seem to suggest Konrad, her confessor, was a hard, controlling man, taking advantage of a distraught girl .  I have no idea if that is true, or simply the modern interpretation of his character.  What are your thoughts about this?  I'm sure I will have to answer some questions in the future from inquiring, thoughtful children who know their catechism....

I have no problem with the fact that Elizabeth is on our calendar because she's a popular saint among the Germans and Hungarians.  Who wouldn't love a young queen whose husband loved her and who opened her home to the sick and dying during epidemic?  Who spent her own dowry (with her husband's permission) to feed the poor during famine?  I definitely would prefer my daughter think of St. Elizabeth (or St. Margaret of Scotland) when they think of princesses and queens, instead of the Disney Princess Collection.

1 comment:

  1. "I definitely would prefer my daughter think of St. Elizabeth (or St. Margaret of Scotland) when they think of princesses and queens, instead of the Disney Princess Collection." Hear, hear Katy! Our daughters deserve better than Disney and Barbie.

    I just listened to an episode on issues etc about Elizabeth of Hungary: http://issuesetc.org/2011/11/18/issues-etc-encore-st-elizabeth-of-hungary/

    Last summer I spent a few hours in the castle wear she lived, up on a mountain, a high mountain that I "climbed" 7 months pregnant, yuk. Thanks for the post!