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Elizabeth of Hungary

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St Elizabeth of Hungary in a 15th century depiction

St Elizabeth of Hungary in a 15th century depiction

© 2008 Jupiterimages Corporation

Dates: 1207 - November 17, 1231

Known for: charitable work with the poor and sick; hospital founder

Occupation: royal consort, saint

Also known as: Elisabeth

Background, Family:

  • Father: King Andrew II of Hungary
  • Mother: Gertrude
  • Aunt: St. Hedwig of Silesia
  • Great-niece: St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: Ludwig (Louis) IV, Landgrave of Thuringa (married 1221; he died in 1227)
  • children:
    • Hermann II (1222-1241)
    • Sophia (1224-1284, married Henry II of Brabant)
    • Gertrude (1227-1297, an abbess)

Feast Day: November 17

Canonized: May 27, 1235, by Pope Gregory IX

Symbols: rich clothing, crown, red roses, bread loaf, alms, pitcher

About Elizabeth of Hungary:

Daughter of the Hungarian king, Elizabeth of Hungary was promised in marriage to Hermann, son of Hermann II of Thuringia. After Hermann died, she was married at fourteen to his brother, Ludwig. Ludwig was often away, serving as a diplomat and soldier in the service of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Despite mistreatment and scorn by her mother-in-law, Elizabeth was heavily involved in charity work among the poor. She became associated with the Franciscans, founding a monastery in 1225.

In 1226, when her husband was in Italy, Elizabeth responded to floods and pestilence by selling all her jewelry and opening the royal granaries to feed the hungry. She came under the mentorship of the strict Conrad of Marburg, the first papal inquisitor in Germany, and a supporter of crusades.

After her husband succumbed in 1227 to illness while on Crusade, Elizabeth went to her aunt Matilda, an abbess, perhaps pushed out by in-laws. Her uncle tried to arrange a new marriage for his royal niece, but she announced a vow not to remarry. Conrad persuaded her to give up her children but not her dower rights, and she negotiated a financial settlement with her in-laws. Elizabeth became more involved with the Franciscans, and became a lay associate in 1228. She used her own funds to built a hospital, and worked there herself caring for the sick.

After Elizabeth died in 1231, Conrad worked for her canonization, and after the report of miracles, she was canonized in 1235, though Conrad was murdered shortly before.

A convent in Vienna, Austria, has her relics: her skull and a gold crown that she wore while alive.

Patronage:

Because of her generosity with the poor and sick, she became the patron saint of charities. Because of her founding of a hospital, many hospitals have been named in her honor. Her opening of the granary led to her being considered a patron of bakers. She has also been considered a patron of widows and young brides and a special help to women with in-law problems.

Religion: Roman Catholic

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