It’s a fairy-tale story of a princess who fell in love and married the man of her dreams — and who also shunned wealth and helped the poor. Meet St. Elizabeth of Hungary.
Princess Elizabeth was born in 1207 to King King Andrew II and Gertrude of Merania of Hungary. Elizabeth’s mother died when she was six, and that greatly affected her outlook on what was important in life. At 14, she married Louis of Thuringia. They had three children. During their marriage, Elizabeth was already living an austere life and using their money to assist the poor.
There was controversy among the royals and her husband’s family because they resented her using royal funds in that way. In the story of the “miracle of roses.” Elizabeth was secretly taking bread to feed the poor and had hidden it in her clothing. She was stopped by her husband and his friends on her journey, and when they questioned her, the food appeared to be rose petals hidden in her cloak.
Her husband was killed in the Crusades only a few years later. She loved him deeply, and upon his death said “It is to me as if the whole world died today.”
Elizabeth joined the secular Franciscans after her husband’s death because of her great devotion to St. Francis of Assisi. She spent her last years working for the poor and especially the sick. It is reported that she founded a hospital in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.
She died in 1231 at the age of 24. Miracles were attributed to her shortly after her death which lead to her canonization only four years later in 1235.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s feast day is Nov. 17.
She is the patron of Catholic Charities, widows and the Secular Franciscan Order.
She is also recognized as a saint in the Anglican and Lutheran churches. There are shrines to her in Slovakia and Germany.
Find out more about Secular Franciscan Orders in the U.S. here:
Read St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s biography at Franciscan Media:
A lovely devotion to St. Elizabeth of Hungary can be found here: