“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'”Matthew 25:35-36
A 24-year-old widow with 3 children lived a truly Christian life of prayer and charity. She was born into a royal family, but her comfortable life did not interest her. At an early age, she developed lots of virtue. She dressed too simply, prayed a lot, and gave alms without hesitation.
Her marriage to a prince enabled her to help more sick, lepers, and poor people in their kingdom. As a princess, she would now have greater scope for her charitable works. And with God’s blessing, the arrival of the missionaries of St. Francis of Assisi even magnified her virtue of poverty and love for the poor. She then eventually joined the third order of the Franciscans.
She was devastated when her husband died of a plague while on his way to lead the Crusaders to the Holy Land. “The world is dead to me, and all that was joyous in the world”, she said in grief. Following her husband’s death, she was evicted from the castle bringing her newborn child with her. They lived in a pigsty for a time until some of her relatives, out of shame, provided her with a small cabin to live.
For her virtues and her beauty, an emperor offered him marriage. Her suffering would have ended had she accepted the offer, but she chose to remain a widow and be with the sick and the poor. In her spare time, she would go out fishing and sell her catch so she could have money for almsgiving.
She spent the rest of her life serving the afflicted until she felt ill and died. Her holiness spread rapidly and she was elevated to altar honors after three years. The Church honors her every November 17 as patroness of hospitals, the sick, the homeless, widows, mothers, etc. This is the reason why the gospel reading on this date is about the works of mercy which are necessary for all Christians who wish to enter the narrow gates of heaven.
Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.Matthew 25:34
Intercessory Prayer on her Feast
Lord God, you taught Saint Elizabeth of Hungary to see and reverence Christ in the poor. May her prayers help us to give constant love and service to the afflicted and the needy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,(one) God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!