St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary ~ James Powell & Sons, London, 1938

Elizabeth was born in 1207, the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary. Betrothed at the age of four to Louis, the son of Landgrave Herman I of Thuringia, Elizabeth was raised at the court of her future in-laws. She was a very devout child and was taunted for her faith by her caretakers in Thuringia. When Louis succeeded his father in 1221, he and Elizabeth were married. It was a very happy marriage, and they had three or four children (accounts vary). But their happy life together was short; Louis felt called to go on a Crusade in 1229 and died of the plague three months later.

His brother usurped his throne and forced Elizabeth and her children to leave court in the dead of winter. After finding suitable people to take care of her children, she put herself into a very strict convent under the guidance of a severe spiritual mentor. She lived in dire poverty and privation in Bamberg where she spent her time ministering to the poor. Her charity and generosity were legendary, even while she was married to Louis. She founded many hospitals and was especially concerned with the plight of lepers and orphans.

One story in her legend says that on one of her missions of charity, she came upon a child with leprosy who had been cast out of his house. She brought the child home and put him to bed in her own bed. When her husband heard of it and came in to see him, ready to reproach Elizabeth, he turned back the covers, and they saw the Christ Child smiling at them. Then the child vanished.

Shortly before her death at the age of 24, her son regained control of the government of Thuringia and summoned her back to court. Elizabeth was canonized in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX. The shrine of her remains in Marburg was a popular pilgrimage in the middle ages.

She is usually depicted holding a basket of roses because of another part of her legend, which tells of her being out distributing bread to the poor. Louis happens upon her, and the bread was miraculously changed into roses to hide her true mission. Records show, however, that Louis was very supportive of her charity.

In her window, St. Elizabeth is holding the basket of roses. Behind her is a scene showing her distributing bread to the poor. Above her is the pelican, a Christian symbol of charity (because the pelican will wound itself if necessary to feed its young.) Her feast day is November 19.

Click the image for the full sized version

Location: In the chapel.
Inscription: None