Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saint of the day: Elizabeth of Hungary

The following comes from the New Advent site:

Also called St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, born in Hungary, probably at Pressburg, 1207; died at Marburg, Hesse, 17 November (not 19 November), 1231.

She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary (1205-35) and his wife Gertrude, a member of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth's brother succeeded his father on the throne of Hungary as Bela IV; the sister of her mother, Gertrude, was St. Hedwig, wife of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia, while another saint, St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal (d. 1336), the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz of that country, was her great-niece.

In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to arrange, as was customary in that age, a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This plan of a marriage was the result of political considerations and was intended to be the ratification of a great alliance which in the political schemes of the time it was sought to form against the German Emperor Otto IV, a member of the house of Guelph, who had quarrelled with the Church. Not long after this the little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and, in the course of time, to be betrothed to him.

The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived surrounded by poets and minnesingers, to whom he was a generous patron. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the court and the pomp of her surroundings, the little girl grew up a very religious child with an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful experiences of her life.

In 1213 Elizabeth's mother, Gertrude, was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of hatred of the Germans. On 31 December, 1216, the oldest son of the landgrave, Hermann, who Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any ill-treatment. The legend that arose later is incorrect in making Elizabeth's mother-in-law, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria, the leader of this court party. On the contrary, Sophia was a very religious and charitable woman and a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth.

For more on St. Elizabeth please click here.

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