Elizabeth of Hungary, whose feast day we celebrate today, was born into royalty in
Bratislava. Married at 14 years of age, she bore three children to her
husband Ludwig. Drawn to the plight of the poor, she wanted to use her
dowry, and sell her jewels, to provide for them during a famine and an epidemic. Her
husband approved, and she founded a hospital near their home. She took it upon
herself to visit the sick every day, helping them to regain their health.
A legend about Elizabeth is that she was once carrying bread in her apron to
give to the poor. Stopped by authorities, she was challenged to display what
she was carrying. When she opened her apron, it was full of red and white
roses. Her husband took that as a sign that God was at work.
Her husband died when she was twenty years old. Elizabeth fell out of
political favor, and spent some years in straightened circumstances. Then the
Franciscans came to town. She was attracted to Francis’ ideals, and began practicing
them, including caring for the sickest patients. She is revered as a patron saint of
The Third Order of Franciscans. She is also the patron saint of hospitals. Many across
the world are named after her.
The Rev. Charles Hoffacker is a retired priest of the Diocese of Washington