The day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, renowned for furthering St. Francis of Assissi’s ideals of poverty and service.

Born as the daughter of Hungarian King Andrew II in 1207, Elizabeth’s arranged marriage to Ludwig of Thuringia forced her to leave her family while still very young.  Additionally, Elizabeth’s mother Gertrude was murdered in 1213 due to a conflict between German people and Hungarian nobles.  Both events led Elizabeth to sorrow, though she turned to prayer for consolation.

Catholic News Agency’s article on St. Elizabeth continues her story:

Ludwig, who had advanced to become one of the rulers of Thuringia, supported Elizabeth’s efforts to live out the principles of the Gospel even within the royal court. She met with friars of the nascent Franciscan order during its founder’s own lifetime, resolving to use her position as queen to advance their mission of charity.
In 1226, while Ludwig was attending to political affairs in Italy, Elizabeth took charge of distributing aid to victims of disease and flooding that struck Thuringia. She took charge of caring for the afflicted, even when this required giving up the royal family’s own clothes and goods. Elizabeth arranged for a hospital to be built, and is said to have provided for the needs of nearly a thousand desperately poor people on a daily basis.

The next year, however, would put Elizabeth’s faith to the test. Her husband had promised to assist the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the Sixth Crusade, but he died of illness en route to Jerusalem […] Elizabeth used her remaining money to build another hospital, where she personally attended to the sick almost constantly.
Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis, seeking to emulate the example of its founder as closely as her responsibilities would allow. Near the end of her life, she lived in a small hut and spun her own clothes.

After [Elizabeth] died [in 1231], miraculous healings soon began to occur at her grave near the hospital, and she was declared a saint only four years later.

Pope Benedict XVI recently praised her as a “model for those in authority.”