Sunday, July 4, 2010

Saint of the Day Double Duty - St. Elizabeth of Portugal

Today is one of the exciting days in the year when we celebrate not one saint but two! Our second saint today is St. Elizabeth of Portugal.

St. Elizabeth was born in 1271 in Aragon, Spain, the daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon. She was the great-niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary for whom she was named. Elizabeth was a pious child, who went to daily Mass, prayed the liturgy of the hours, and did frequent penance.

At the age of 12 Elizabeth was wed to King Diniz of Portugal making her the Queen of Portugal. The King's morals were severely lacking and the royal court to which Elizabeth was brought was entirely corrupt. Nevertheless, Elizabeth persisted in her life of piety, continuing her daily prayers and devotions and doing acts of charity. She was known for caring for the poor and sick and even pressing her ladies-in-waiting to accompany her in her works of charity. King Diniz finally repented of his sins late in his life due to the unfailing prayers of St. Elizabeth.

Elizabeth and Diniz had two children, Constantia and Affonso. Affonso so resented the favors that his father granted to his illegitimate sons that Affonso raised an army against his father. Elizabeth became known as peacemaker when she personally rode to the battlefield to reconcile her husband and son.

Upon the death of King Diniz, Elizabeth retired to a Poor Clare convent wishing to live out her life in obscurity, praying and doing works of charity.

She once more earned the title of peacemaker when she journeyed from the convent to the battlefield of Estremoz, Portugal to reconcile Affonso to his son-in-law, the King of Castile, who had been an abusive husband to Affonso's daughter Maria. However, this journey caused her final illness and she died at Estremoz of a fever on July 4, 1336.

She was canonized by Pope Urban VIII on May 25, 1625. Her feast was originally celebrated on July 8 but has since been moved to July 4.

She is the patron saint: against jealousy; of brides; of charitable societies; of charitable workers; of charity workers; of charities; of Coimbra, Portugal; of difficult marriages; of falsely accused people, of peace; of queens; of tertiaries; of victims of adultery; of victims of jealousy; of victims of unfaithfulness; and of widows. She is also invoked in time of war.

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