St. Elizabeth of Hungary was a strong, generous, and virtuous young woman. In reading about her life, she comes across as someone who certainly would make good wife material. It’s so appropriate that the first reading chosen for her feast day is taken from Sirach 26, in which the quality of a good wife is described:
Happy is the husband of a good wife; the number of his days will be doubled. A loyal wife rejoices her husband, and he will complete his years in peace. A good wife is a great blessing; she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord. A modest wife adds charm to charm, and no balance can weigh the value of a chaste soul. Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord, so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.
Elizabeth was a Hungarian princess who was married at a young age to Louis of Thuringia. They were deeply devoted to each other and together had three children. Elizabeth was known for her charitable works and her love for the poor. At first, her husband didn’t understand her dedication for the poor but he grew to truly appreciate her kindness to others and was even obliged to her for it. The story goes that one day when Louis was away from the castle, Elizabeth took in a poor and leprous beggar and had him placed on their bed where she cared for him. After hearing reports of this upon his return, he pulled back the bed covers only to find an image of Christ, or as I’ve heard before, a bouquet of roses. Louis was moved by this and was grateful to her. He quipped that he would never be displeased with her so long as she never sold the castle. The husband of such a generous and loving wife must have been blessed indeed. Unfortunately, he died of the plague leaving Elizabeth a widow. From then on, Elizabeth was completely after service of the poor, living poverty herself in a deeper way as she was practically kicked out of the castle. Elizabeth built a hospital where she devoted herself to caring for the sick. She was a third order Franciscan and was detached from material possessions. Before she died she asked to be buried in a very simple dress.
St. Elizabeth shows us that it is better to give than to receive – – and she received more than she gave, the riches of Christ who became poor that we might become rich. In serving him in his distressing disguise she was greatly rewarded. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.