How Can I Wear a Crown of Gold?
Yesterday was the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary! She is special to me and my family for many reasons. Both my parents escaped from Hungary, my dear extended family lives there today, and my lovely daughter was named after her.
St. Elizabeth is remarkable because she took the privileges and riches she was given as a Queen and gave it all to the poor and the sick in service to our Lord. She married her betrothed, Louis IV, at the age of 14, he was 21. It is very inspiring that she was so humble, selfless, courageous, and holy at such a young age. Their marriage was overall very happy and they had 3 children. Others in the castle were outraged with her close relationship with peasants and those considered “unclean.” St. Elizabeth did not listen to them. She is known for taking off her royal crown, kneeling before a statue of our crucified Jesus, and saying, “How could I bear a crown of gold when the Lord bears a crown of thorns? And bears it for me!”
St. Elizabeth built a hospital at the foot of the castle and worked there several days a week. She also left the grounds to seek out those who were destitute, homeless, ill or stricken with leprosy. These great acts of charity were extremely frowned upon by all in her household. Louis, her husband was never as severe as others and he was to quickly support all her efforts after a miracle occurred. St. Elizabeth had brought a leper into the castle and as you can imagine mayhem ensued. Louis stormed into the room, and there before him, he saw our crucified Jesus laying in the bed! From that time forward, he helped her in her mission and their love was strengthened as their devotion to Jesus grew.
Another more known miracle was when St. Elizabeth was leaving the castle to feed the poor. She had many loaves of fresh bread rolled up in her apron. When her brother-in-law demanded that she show him what was in her apron, she let it drop and many white and red roses fell to the ground.
In 1226, a great famine spread through the land. St. Elizabeth responded by giving even more possessions from the castle. She sold all her expensive jewels and fine dresses and used the money to make sure the people did not starve. St. Elizabeth dressed only in simple clothes from that day forward.
Unfortunately, in 1227 her husband died en route to the Holy Land. She was grief-stricken for months, missing her beloved. Her in-laws were not compassionate and instructed her to stop giving away articles from the castle and cease her charity work if she wanted to remain in residence.. St. Elizabeth instead chose the poor and left with her three children. Sadly, the people in the town were scared to help her for fear of retribution. In order to save her children, she had to send them away to be cared for by others. Without any inheritance, she became a poor beggar.
In 1228, she joined the Third Order of Franciscans and lived an even simpler life. She lived among the poor and tried to earn a living as a seamstress. After a couple of years, her health began to suffer and she died in 1231 at the age of 24. She was canonized only three years after her death by Pope Gregory IX. She is the patron Saint of hospitals, nurses, bakers, brides, countesses, dying children, exiles, homeless people, lace-makers, widows, and the Third Order of Saint Francis.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary is an inspiration to us all. We have been given so much and she reminds us to think about being even more generous with those in need. Do we help those at “our gate,” whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Do we realize that the Lord can take our simple acts of kindness (bread) and change them into love and mercy (red and white roses) for the recipient? “There are no great things, just small things done with great love.” St. Mother Teresa
Let us ask the Lord to help us give and love more generously. May the Holy Spirit guide us to who we need to help and let Him show us the best way to bring God’s love to those in need. We ask this through Jesus and with St. Elizabeth of Hungary’s intercession. Be assured of my prayers for you!