Our Patron Saint

St. Elizabeth of Hungary lived only 23 years but during that time she recognized and honored Christ in the poor of this world. 

She was born in 1207 Her father was Andrew II of Hungary. At the age of four Elizabeth was pledged in marriage to Louis of Bavaria and was sent to live in his castle at Eisenach—the Wartburg. While the Thuringian court did not appreciate her presence there, Louis grew to love her deeply. They were married in 1221 when Elizabeth was 14 and Louis 21. Many tried to stop the marriage but Louis said that he would sooner give up a mountain of gold than give up Elizabeth. 

Their marriage was alive with love and joy and it overflowed to the advantage of others. Elizabeth had an intense compassion for the poor and the ill. Money and gifts she received from Hungary were used for those in need. When she became the wife of Louis, she was able to start a major social service program. She not only built a hospital but she spent long hours nursing and feeding the unfortunate. She made beds and cleaned floors. She cared for scores of alienated youths and orphans and fed hundreds every day. 

Once, after attending a compulsory State affair requiring formal dress and crown, she was found kneeling in tears before a crucifix, her gold coronet on the floor; she could not bear to wear it before her Christ wearing his crown of thorns. 

Before the birth of their third child, Louis assumed the “red cross” of the Crusader. Elizabeth accepted God’s holy will but since she was intensely human, she cried torrents of tears when he left. Louis never reached the Holy Land. He died of the plague while still in a camp in Italy. At his death, her in-laws took over the castle and showed her contempt. With her baby and her son she went to live at her uncle’s home. Her daughter, Sophia, was placed with the nuns of Kitzingen, whose Abbess was her aunt. Elizabeth never remarried. She also refused to return to Hungary. 

In 1228 Elizabeth, reduced from riches to rags, took the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis. At Marburg, she began another hospital or hospice, where she cared for the abandoned poor, the sick and the dying, including the contagiously ill. 

She died, literally burned out in sacrificial offering to others for God’s sake, at the age of 23.