Sainte Elisabeth du Portugal
ou Isabelle d'Aragon.
Fille du roi Pierre d'Aragon, elle épousa à douze ans le roi Denys du Portugal qui régna trente-six ans, laissant le souvenir d'un bon souverain et d'un trouvère talentueux et célèbre. Trouvant sa consolation dans l'amour divin, sainte Elisabeth ne tint jamais rigueur à son mari d'avoir des maîtresses. Elle éleva leurs enfants comme si c'était les siens. Elle resta une épouse discrète et attentive et fut une reine excellente, ne sortant de l'ombre que lorsque son mari le désirait. Elle s'efforçait de le faire aimer de ses sujets. Par deux fois, elle le réconcilia avec son fils Alphonse qui avait pris les armes contre son père. Dès que Denys fut mort, elle entra chez les clarisses de Coïmbra, au centre du Portugal.
....En écoutant la vie de Sainte Élisabeth de Portugal, nous pouvons trouver de quoi raviver notre espérance. Certes la 'culture' de ce temps n'est pas celle d'aujourd'hui, les contraintes sont différentes heureusement, mais il y en d'autres!...
Elle fut admirable pour apaiser les discordes entre les rois et pour sa charité envers les pauvres. Après la mort de son mari, le roi Denis, elle revêtit l'habit de sainte Claire et vécut à Coïmbre auprès du couvent des Tertiaires franciscaines qu'elle avait fait construire. Au cours d'un voyage entrepris, en 1336, pour essayer de réconcilier son fils et son petit-fils, à Estremoz elle s'en alla vers le Seigneur.
Seigneur, source de paix, ami de la charité, tu as donné à sainte Elisabeth de Portugal une grâce merveilleuse pour réconcilier les hommes désunis. Accorde-nous, par son intercession, de travailler au service de la paix et de pouvoir être appelés fils de Dieu.
Oraison de sa fête
Sainte Elisabeth (ou Isabelle) de Portugal
Fille du roi Pierre d'Aragon, elle naît en 1271. A douze ans elle épouse le roi Denys de Portugal qui régna trente-six ans (1279-1325). Elle lui donna deux enfants : Constance qui devint reine de Castille et Alphonse qui régna sur le Portugal de 1325 à 1357. Trouvant sa consolation dans l'amour divin, Elisabeth ne tint jamais rigueur à son mari de ce qu'il lui fit endurer et s'efforçait de le faire aimer. Elle fut une reine excellente. A la mort de son mari, elle se retira comme tertiaire franciscaine chez les Clarisses de Coïmbra. Elle mourut le 4 juillet 1336 à Estremoz où elle s'était rendue pour réconcilier son fils et son gendre. Au moment de fermer les yeux, elle dit encore : « donnez donc un siège à cette belle dame en blanc qui vient d'entrer. » C'était la Vierge Marie, venue la conduire, à l'heure de la mort, vers son Maître et Seigneur.SOURCE : http://www.paroisse-saint-aygulf.fr/index.php/prieres-et-liturgie/saints-par-mois/icalrepeat.detail/2015/07/04/835/-/sainte-elisabeth-ou-isabelle-de-portugal
Basílica de São Francisco das Chagas (Canindé)
Sainte Elisabeth du Portugal
Née en 1271, probablement à Saragosse, Isabelle (ou Elisabeth) est la dernière des six enfants de Pierre III d'Aragon et de Constance, petite-fille de Frédéric II. L’enfant reçoit au baptême le nom de sa grand-tante, sainte Elisabeth de Thuringe (ou de Hongrie), que le pape Grégoire IX a canonisé en 1235. Lors de sa naissance, son père n'est encore qu'infant d'Espagne, constamment opposé à son père, Jacques I° . La naissance d'Isabelle permet la réconciliation familiale. En effet, Pierre confie l’enfant à Jacques I° qui, pendant cinq ans (1271-1276), veille tendrement sur sa petite-fille. Devenu cistercien, l'aïeul qui n'est nullement gâteux mais lucide, surnomme sa chère Isabelle par une appellation prémonitoire : « mon bel ange de la paix. » L'existence entière de l'enfant confirmera ce diagnostic.
En 1283, l'adolescente est demandée en mariage par les princes héritiers d'Angleterre et de Naples, et aussi par le roi Denis de Portugal pour qui opte la chancellerie espagnole. Après avoir magnifiquement accueilli sa jeune fiancée à Bragance, résidence de la cour, le prince paraît d'abord filer le parfait amour, d’autant plus qu’Elisabeth lui donne deux enfants : Constance (3 janvier 1290) et Alphonse (8 févier 1291), prince-hériter du royaume.
Premier des rois-organisateurs, Denis promeut une parfaite mise en valeur de ses états : plantation de pins pour construire une flotte puissante, développement rationnel du commerce et de l'industrie. Prenant ses distances envers la Castille, il crée à Lisbonne, l'Estudo geral, embryon de l'université future. Sa nationalisation des ordres militaires de Calatrava et de Santiago conforte l'unité de son royaume. En 1312, il transforme et rénove les Templiers en Ordre du Christ.
Cependant, un surnom infâmant lui est attribué : Denis, le faiseur de bâtards ; juste reproche. De fait, souverain intelligent et éclairé, bon administrateur autant que brave soldat, bon, pondéré et juste, le roi Denis laisse échapper ses sens dans une sexualité débridée. Et pourtant, il chérit son épouse qu’il trompe régulièrement : « C'est plus fort que moi, avoue-t-il à Elisabeth, pourtant, je vous aime. » La noble offensée lui rétorque : « Certes, vous m'offensez et j'en pleure. Pourtant, c'est le divin amour que vous bafouez. Devant lui, nous sommes unis à jamais. »
Autant pour se faire pardonner que par bonté, le roi Denis permet que sa femme distribue d'opulentes aumônes que les courtisans reprochent à leur reine : « Vous en faites trop, Majesté, certains vous comparent à une bonne poire que l'on savoure à volonté. » Elle répond : « Ami, je ne puis entendre les gémissements de tant de pauvres mères et la voix des petits-enfants. Je ne puis voir les larmes des vieillards et les misères de tant de pauvres gens sans m'employer à soulager les malheurs du pays. Les biens que Dieu m'a confiés, je n'en suis que l'intendante, pour secourir toutes détresses. » Plus encore, la reine prend soin des enfants illégitimes de son époux. On s'exclame autour d'elle : « N'est-ce pas un comble ? » L'interpellée fournit ses motivation, couronnées d'excuses sublimes : « Ces bâtards du roi sont des petits innocents. Je leur procure donc bonnes nourrices et chrétienne éducation. Sans doute ai-je mal su retenir mon mari qui est pourtant si bon ! »
Atteint de jalousie morbide, le Roi est irritable, furieux à l'excès par crises subites. Fâché contre lui-même, le malheureux croit devoir séquestrer la Reine au château d'Alemquer. « Vous êtes plus mère qu'amante en me préférant votre fils. » Alors que les courtisans plaignent l'exilée, elle leur répond : « La divine providence veillera parfaitement sur mes intérêts. Je les lui abandonne. Finalement, Dieu saura faire éclater mon innocence et enlever de l'esprit du roi, mon seigneur, les mauvaises impressions que j'ai pu lui causer. » De fait, le colérique pour cause d'incontinence, s'excuse bientôt à genoux et la comble de cadeaux : « La ville de Torres-Vedras en Estrémadure, sur le fleuve côtier Sizandro, sera votre propriété. Que ce don témoigne de ma repentance pour les peines dont je vous ai abreuvée. »
Un jour d’hiver le roi Denis en colère, avise son épouse dont il croit le tablier rempli de pièces d'argent destinées aux pauvres. Il l’arrête brusquement lui ordonne : « Ouvrez votre tablier, Madame, et découvrez votre fardeau. » Au lieu de l'argent qu'il escomptait récupérer, le roi découvre des fleurs magnifiques, spécialement des roses épanouies, totalement hors-saison. Honteux et confus, il s'excuse mais demeure songeur : « Je croyais bien trouver de l'argent destiné aux gueux. J'ai trouvé une brassée de belles fleurs, largement épanouies en plein hiver. Mon épouse serait-elle une sainte ? » A cause de ce miracle des fleurs, elle sera représentée : tablier ouvert sur une jonchée de roses.
En 1315, un page, gracieux et vertueux, admire respectueusement la reine dont il est le secrétaire. Un autre page, envieux, dit au souverain : « Majesté, ne seriez-vous pas enclin à croire que ce jeune et dévoué serviteur de votre gracieuse épouse, suscite en elle plus d'attention affectueuse que ne le permet la loi divine ? » Le roi Denis qui s'estime trompeur trompé, en éprouve un si vif dépit qu’il projette de faire mourir son rival. Lors d'une promenade à cheval, le roi Denis qui passe près d'un four à chaux, dit au chef du chantier : « Attention mon ami ; affaire d'état ! Demain matin, se présentera devant vous l'un des mes pages. De ma part, il vous posera la question : Avez-vous exécuté l'ordre du roi Denis ? Assurez-vous de sa personne et jetez-le dans votre four. »
Le lendemain, le roi Denis avise le page dévoué à la reine : « Tu sais où se trouve le four à chaux proche du palais. Vas-y et, sur place, interroge les responsables : Avez-vous exécuté les ordres du roi Denis ? Ensuite, reviens vite m'apporter leur réponse. » Le page se met en route sur le champ, mais passant devant une église où la cloche, annonce l'élévation, il entre et s'attarde dans le sanctuaire. Au palais, le souverain s'impatiente ; une voix intérieure insinue : « Tes ordres ont-il été exécutés ? Il faudrait t'en assurer ! » Le roi appelle un serviteur qui est justement le calomniateur et lui ordonne : « Prends un bon cheval dans nos écuries et galope jusqu'au four à chaux qui jouxte nos domaines. Là, tu interrogeras les ouvriers par le simple mot-de-passe : Avez-vous exécuté les ordres du roi Denis ? » Dès son arrivée sur le chantier, il demande : « Avez-vous exécuté les ordres du roi Denis ? » Il est saisi et jeté au feu sans autre forme de procès.
Quand survient le pieux page, réconforté par sa longue halte priante, on lui répond : « Travail accompli. Sa majesté sera satisfaite. » Le vertueux page rentre au palais. Sidéré, le roi Denis lui dit : « Tu en as mis du temps pour exécuter cette mission de confiance. Qu'est-il arrivé ? » Le page répond : « Sire, veuillez me pardonner. » Le Roi ordonne : « Mais encore : explique-toi franchement. » Et le page de répondre : « Voilà mon excuse, Sire, veuillez l'accepter. » Le roi insiste : « Je te somme de me dire la vérité, rien que la vérité, toute la vérité. » Le page répond : « Mieux vaut tout vous avouer, voici l'affaire. A vos ordres, je faisais diligence lorsque, passant près d'une église où l'on célébrait la messe, j'entendis la clochette de l'élévation. J'entre et attends la fin. Ensuite, j'assiste une seconde, puis à une troisième messe. En effet, mon père mourant me fis jurer sur son lit de mort : Beau fils, sois fidèle à la tradition des trois messes à la suite. Dieu te protègera ! » Enfin, le roi demande : « Ensuite, bien sûr, tu es allé au four à chaux. » Et le page répond : « Certes et rapidement. Là les ouvriers me confièrent le message qui vous rassurera : Travail accompli. Sa majesté sera satisfaite. »
Honteux d'avoir pu causer la mort d'un homme par jalousie, le roi Denis s'exclame : « le doigt de Dieu est là. » Converti, il s'applique à réparer ses erreurs passées. Quant au page, il comprend parfaitement qu'un autre est mort à sa place, à cause de son providentiel retard. Les courtisans disent au Roi : « Après tout, le calomniateur est puni. La divine justice y a pourvu. »
En 1317, le prince-héritier Alphonse, marié à l'infante de Castille, craignant d'être supplanté par les bâtards de son père, fomente une conspiration contre Denis et s'avance avec une armée. Elisabeth s'interpose : « Fils bien-aimé, renoncez à cet affrontement. Je ferai tout pour préserver vos droits. De plus, quant au fond, votre père n'est-il pas juste et bon ? » Bientôt, la réconciliation est accomplie, et Jean XXII félicite la souveraine : « Vous êtes admirable d'avoir pu réconcilier votre époux et votre fils, tellement montés l'un contre l'autre ! »
Bientôt, elle obtiendra la réconciliation de Ferdinand IV, roi de Castille avec Alphonse de Cerda, son cousin germain, qui se disputent la couronne. Elle réconciliera aussi Jacques II, roi d'Aragon, son propre frère, avec le roi de Castille, son gendre. Toujours apaisante et tutélaire, la reine de Portugal arrange les affaires et réconcilie les antagonistes. Son talent de pacificatrice est tellement connu et reconnu que le bon peuple s'y repose : « Tant que vivra Dame Elisabeth, nous vivrons en paix. » De fait, ce charisme d'apaiseuse s'exerce jusqu'au seuil de l'éternité.
En 1324, le roi Denis tombe gravement malade et son épouse s'applique à bien le préparer à la mort : « Somme toute, Majesté, les rois ne sont que les bergers de leur peuple. Ensemble, détestons nos péchés. Ils nous seront remis par la divine Bonté qui nous ouvrira les portes du ciel. » L'année suivante, à Santarem, sur la rive droite du Tage, meurt saintement le roi Denis.
La reine Elisabeth qui rappelle souvent le conseil de saint Paul, assiste aux funérailles solennelles de son époux et accompagne le corps jusqu'au monastère cistercien d'Odiversa, sépulture royale. Pour le salut de son mari, elle fait un pèlerinage à Saint-Jacques de Compostelle où elle offre au sanctuaire la couronne d'or qu'elle avait portée le jour de son mariage. Ensuite, elle voudrait se retirer du monde au couvent de Coïmbre, dont elle était la seconde fondatrice pour finir sa vie, mais elle recule par charité réaliste et, sans trêve ni relâche, secourt les pauvres et travaille à établir ou rétablir la paix. Elisabeth prend toutefois l'habit du tiers-ordre de Saint-François, et se contente d'habiter une maison proche du monastère, vivant elle-même selon la règle du tiers-ordre. Ayant obtenu du Saint-Siège le privilège d'entrer dans le cloître, elle va souvent chez les moniales pour s'entretenir avec elles. Dans sa maison il y a toujours cinq religieuses du monastère avec lesquelles elle prie, récite l'office et vit en communauté. Elle le fait à pied, déjà âgée de soixante-quatre ans, un deuxième pèlerinage à Saint-Jacques de Compostelle, demandant l'aumône en route.
Alors qu’elle vient de fonder à Lisbonne le couvent de la Trinité, le premier sanctuaire où l'on vénère l'Immaculée Conception, et qu'elle y fait ses dévotions, on lui annonce subitement : « Noble dame, nouveau malheur ! La guerre paraît imminente entre Alphonse IV, roi du Portugal, votre fils et Alphonse XI, souverain de Castille, votre neveu. » A cette nouvelle, la sexagénaire décide : « Partons immédiatement pour Extremoz : il faut rétablir la concorde. » Ce qui fut dit, fut fait. Une fois encore, succès de la fine diplomate. Cette bien-avisée meurt irradiée de joie d'avoir pu éviter le conflit. Elle résume sa dernière démarche par une exclamation qui constitue son mot-de-passe pour l'éternité : « Procedamus un pace » (avançons en paix !)
Apprenant peu après que son fils Alphonse et son petit-fils, le roi de Castille, entraient en guerre, elle se rendit à Estremoz chez son fils. A peine arrivée, elle tomba malade. Béatrice tient affectueusement la main de sa belle-mère, lorsqu'elle sent une légère pression et entend un appel : « Approchez donc un siège, mamie. » La princesse répond : « Mais il n'y a personne pour l'occuper. » La Reine réplique : « Sûrement que si, en effet, j'aperçois une belle dame radieuse, vêtue d'une robe éclatante de blancheur. Elle vient me chercher. Je la reconnais : c'est Marie, mère de tout grâce. » Ce furent ces dernières paroles (4 juillet 1336).
Le corps de la reine Elisabeth, transféré d'Estremoz à Coïmbre, est déposé au monastère des Clarisses où le peuple pieux, en foule, le vénère. En 1520, à la demande du roi Manuel I° de Portugal, le pape Léon X autorise le culte, dans le diocèse de Coïmbre ; trente ans après, Paul IV l’étend à tout le royaume. En 1612 on retire du tombeau de marbre le corps entier d'Elisabeth, enseveli dans un drap de soie et placé dans un coffret de bois précieux recouvert de cuir : le visage de la sainte reine est encore régulier et souriant. Alphonse, évêque de Coïmbre, édifie une splendide chapelle. On y dépose les restes de la souveraine, dans une magnifique châsse d'argent massif. Canonisée par Urbain VIII le 25 mai 1625, Elisabeth suscite grande dévotion et se trouve exaltée par de nombreux panégyristes. La fête qui avait été transférée du 4 juillet au 8 juillet, par Innocent XII (1695) fut de nouveau fixée au 4 juillet par Paul VI.
 Pierre III le Grand (né en 1239) fut roi d'Aragon (1276-1285) et roi de Sicile (1282-1285). Fils de Jacques I° d’Aragon, il acquit des droits sur les anciennes possessions des Hohenstaufen en Italie par son mariage avec Constance, fille de Manfred, roi de Sicile, et héritière des Hohenstaufen (1262). Il accueillit à la cour d'Aragon les chefs siciliens dressés contre la tyrannie angevine, tels Roger de Lauria et Jean de Procida, et fut l'instigateur des Vêpres siciliennes (30 mars 1282) qui renversèrent la domination française. Dès le 4 septembre 1282, il s'emparait du pouvoir à Palerme et prit en Sicile le nom de Pierre I°. Charles d'Anjou obtint du pape Martin IV l'excommunication de Pierre III, et organisa une croisade d'Aragon (1284-1285) qui, menée par Philippe III le Hardi, roi de France, se termina par la victoire de l'Aragonais. Pierre lII avait fait de l'Aragon la première puissance de la Méditerranée occidentale, et c'est avec lui que commença l'intrusion de l'Espagne dans les affaires italiennes. En Aragon, il se trouva aux prises avec l'opposition de la no¬blesse et des villes, qui obtinrent de lui le Grand Privilège (1283). Il mourut à Villafranca del Panadès (Catalogne) le 10 novembre 1285.
 Sainte Elisabeth de Thuringe (ou de Hongrie) est fêtée le 17 novembre.
 Jacques I° le Conquérant (né à Montpellier, en 1208), fils et successeur de Pierre II, fut roi d'Aragon de 1213 à 1276. Il conquit sur les Maures les royaumes de Valence (1238) et de Murcie (1266) ; il conquit et annexa les îles Baléares (1229-1335). Au traité de Corbeil (1258), saint Louis renonça aux comtés de Barcelone et de Roussillon, tandis que Jacques I° renonçait à toute prétention au-delà des Pyrénées, excepté Montpellier. Un de ses fils, Pierre III, régna sur l'Aragon, un autre Jacques I°, régna sur Majorque. Jacques I° qui écrit la chronique de son règne, mourut à Valence le 27 juillet 1276.
 Denis I° est le fils et le successeur du roi Alphonse III de Portugal qui mourut à Libonne le 16 novembre 1279.
 Constance épousera Ferdinand IV l’Ajourné (1289-1312), roi de Castille et de Léon (1295-1312) ; elle meurt en 1313.
 Alphonse IV le Brave fut roi d’Aragon de 1325 à 1357.
 « Que tout se fasse avec bienséance et dans l'ordre » (première épître de saint Paul aux Corinthiens, XIV, 10),
 La reine Elisabeth avait acquis l’église et le couvent inachevés qu’une chanoinesse de Saint-Jean-des-Dames avait voulu établir sur la rive gauche du fleuve ; elle y installa une communauté de Pauvres Dames de Sainte-Claire, venue de Zamora. L’église fut consacrée en 1330.
 « Publicas et privatas identidem ad eas adhortationes habebat », disent les textes de la relation faite au consistoire secret d'Urbain VIII, le 13 janvier 1625.
 Manuel I° le Grand ou le Fortuné (né en 1469) était le fils du duc Ferdinand de Viseu qui appartenait à une branche cadette de la maison de Portugal. En 1495, le roi Jean II étant mort sans enfant légitime, Manuel lui succéda sur le trône du Portugal. Il soutint activement les grandes explorations maritimes : sous son règne que Vasco de Gama doubla le cap de Bonne-Espérance et que Cabral aborda au Brésil (1500). Il fit de sa cour un grand centre d'activité littéraire et scientifique réforma les lois, bannit les Juifs et les Maures qui s'étaient réfugiés au Portugal après la prise de Grenade. On appela « manuélin » le style qui introduisit de la Renais¬sance dans l'architecture portugaise (châ¬teau de Cintra, église du Christ à Setubal, cloître de Belem). Par sa politique de mariages Manuel espérait assurer à ses héritiers la couronne d’Espagne Il mourut à Lisbonne le 13 décembre 1521.
A partir d'anecdotes typiques, se constitue une riche tradition pour peintres, graveurs et sculpteurs. Voici les dominantes et symbolismes de ces représentations.
- Puisque le roi Denis se montre inquisiteur, soupçonneux et jaloux voilà qu'un jour, au cœur de l'hiver, il avise son épouse dont le tablier, croit-il, est rempli de pièces d'argent destinées aux pauvres. Le limier stoppe brusquement la donatrice et lui intime l'ordre : Ouvrez votre tablier, Madame, et découvrez votre fardeau. - Prodige ! Au lieu de l'argent qu'il escomptait récupérer, le souverain découvre des fleurs magnifiques, spécialement des roses épanouies, totalement hors-saison. Honteux et confus, il s'excuse mais demeure songeur.
Ce miracle des fleurs n'est-il pas enregistré en d'autres biographies, spécialement chez l'italienne Zite ou Zita (+ 1278) et pour la française Germaine Cousin (+ 1601). Nos trois saintes seront donc représentées : tablier ouvert sur une jonchée de roses. En tout cas, à partir de sa déconditure comme enquêteur, le roi Denis exprime cet aveu : Je croyais bien toruver de l'argent destiné aux gueux. J'ai trouvé une brassée de belles fleurs, largement épanouies en plein hiver. Mon épouse serait-elle une sainte ?
- Seconde représentation typique : la reine au broc. Pour expliciter, voici l'essai. Les médecins prescrivent à la reine, à cause de ses mots d'estomac : Buvez, lors de vos deux repas principaux, un verre de bon vin, c'est prudence, au lieu de vous abreuver d'eau, par pénitence ! Le roi qui connaît l'ordonnance des mires, en vérifie l'exécution. Le broc dans lequel Elisabeth puise sa boisson serait-il rempli d'eau ? Non pas car le roi qui est un fin palais apprécie : excellent vin : rien à dire ! Toutefois, le subtil s'interroge encore : Le miracle de Cana se serait-il renouvelé, à notre table ?
Enfin, compte-tenu de son option ternale chez les pauvres Dames, la reine apparaît, vêtue du costume franciscain : bure grise, ceinte par une corde. D'autres accentuent l'admirable échange : la souveraine foule aux pieds la couronne terrestre, pour mieux ceindre le diadème céleste.
Titre éminent : martyre du mariage chrétien
Ange de la paix, mère des pauvres, reine charitable : Elisabeth cumule les titres. Pourtant, elle semble demeurer, pour la postérité : patronne toujours secourable, sinon pleinement imitable, des épouses fidèles bien que trompées. En 42 ans de mariage elle supporte, durant plus de 30 ans, les favorites de son mari. cet euphémisme ne désigne-t-il pas les maîtresses préférées d'un souverain ? En cet environnement, se résoudre à l'infidélité de l'époux, passe encore : élever ses bâtards : suréminente vertu! On pèsera, en ces perspectives, le placide constat du vieil hagiographe :
Non seulement la sainte femme endure sans se plaindre peines et chagrins ; plus encore, elle éduque comme siens les enfants qui ne sont pas les siens. Surtout, jamais ne se plaint des infidélités du roi.
Une décennie de bonheur conjugal après la conversion du roi Denis, récompense cette longanimité exemplaire. Aux antipodes du pharisaïsme, la reine contate : La bonté de mon époux couvre ses péchés. Que la charité efface les miens !
Somme toute, avant d'envisager le divorce - conduite d'échec -, toute épouse trompée invoquera noble Dame Elisabeth. Son existence illustre en effet par exemples vivants, deux directives évangéliques :
- Par la patience, vous sauverez les âmes (Lc XXI, 19).
- Que l'homme ne sépare pas ce que Dieu a uni (Mt XIX, 6).
Facile à répéter, difficile à vivre !
Sainte Elisabeth, priez pour nous.
Un couple d'élus : Elisabeth et Denis
A partir de cette longue union, maintenue malgré tous obstacles accumulés et failles crusées, on pourrait tracer les linéaments théologiques du mariage chrétien. Les leçons paraissent s'inscrire en filigrane des faits : l'épouse sauve son époux et, par sa foi maintenue, le ramène à Jésus-Christ. Sur ces composantes, quelques remarques.
- La fidélité (contance dans l'attachement promis), incombe à l'homme aussi bien qu'à la femme. Le masculin ne peut se prévaloir d'aucun privilège pour justifier une tromperie. En l'occurrence, Denis se révèle donc pécheur. Élisabeth, par sa fidélité héroïque, retire finalement son mari de l'abîme du mal.
- tous seraient-ils capables de ce support exceptionnel ? La séparation de corps, sans remariage avant le décès du conjoint, demeure admise et pratiquée en église. Bien sûr, toutes les épouses ne se montrent pas : aimables comme Rachel, sages comme Rébecca, fidèles comme Sara. Nombre de maris se révèlent, à l'image du bon roi Denis : infidèle et jaloux. Il faut pourtant tenter la pratique du support mutuel, dans la trame du terrible quotidien.
- Denis, par son infidélité, rompt le contrat qu'il a signé : Moi, Denis, je te prends, toi, Elisabeth, pour être ma femme, pour le meilleur et pour le pire - richesse et pauvreté, maladie et santé - jusqu'à ce que la mort nous sépare. A cet effet, je te donne ma foi. Certes, ce n'est pas l'amour qui fait le mariage ; ce n'est pas l'enfant qui fait le mariage. Ce sacrement que se confèrent les époux par l'échange des anneaux, réside dans le libre consentement. Denis le renie, par débauche longtemps pratiquée ; Elisabeth le respecte, à travers des larmes de sang.
- Dernier point, non le moindre : comment doivent s'orienter veufs ou veuves : célibat, remariage ou vie religieuse ? Tout dépend des cas et du second appel qui n'est nullement secondaire ? Dame Elisabeth devient tertiaire, membre laïque de la grande famille franciscaine. Elle le fit et fit bien. Bonne preuve : la prière d'introduction de sa messe qui résume son message spirituel :
Seigneur, source de paix, ami de la charité, tu accordes à sainte Elisabeth de Portugal une grâce merveilleuse pour réconcilier les hommes désunis. accorde-nous, par ton intercession, de travailler au service de la paix et de pouvoir être appelés fils de Dieu.
Tous fidèles, en route vers la béatitude
Mariés ou célibataires, veufs ou remariés, laïcs, religieux ou prêtres, riches ou pauvres, simples ou rois : les vocations et les états différent, dans la bénéfique complémentarité écclésiale et sociétaire. L'important demeure simple : savoir fleurir, d'un cœur fidèle, contant et persévérant, là même où Dieu nous sema.
La vraie et tragique histoire conjugale du bon roi Henri, longtemps infidèle et de sa noble et fidèle épouse Elisabeth, mérite attention méditative. Le premier se sauve par chasteté recouvrée ; la seconde est élue, par chasteté conservée. A nous de les suivre, sur l'une de ces deux voies : les seules qui débouchent sur l'éternité de l'amour, dans la définitive fidélité.
SOURCE : http://missel.free.fr/Sanctoral/07/04.php
Sainte Élisabeth naquit l’an 1271, à la fin d’une vacance du Siège apostolique de trois ans, le Bienheureux Grégoire X accédant au trône pontifical, Michel Paléologue empereur de Byzance et saint Louis IX roi de France étant dans la dernière année de sa vie terrestre.
Sainte Élisabeth reçut ce nom à son Baptême, en souvenir de sainte Élisabeth de Hongrie, sa tante. À l’âge de huit ans, elle récitait chaque jour l’Office divin et conserva cette pratique jusqu’à sa mort ; elle méprisait le luxe, fuyait les divertissements, soulageait les pauvres, multipliait ses jeûnes et menait une vie vraiment céleste.
Toutes les œuvres de piété de sainte Élisabeth étaient accompagnées de larmes que l’amour faisait monter de son cœur à ses yeux. Le temps que ses exercices religieux lui laissaient libre, elle aimait à l’employer à l’ornementation des autels ou aux vêtements des pauvres. Toutes ces vertus de la jeune sainte ne faisaient que s’accroître avec l’âge. Élevée sur le trône de Portugal par son mariage avec Denys, roi de ce pays, elle fut d’une patience remarquable dans les épreuves qu’elle eut souvent à subir de la part de son mari, et ne lui montra jamais, en échange de ses procédés injustes, qu’une amabilité croissante, une douceur tout affectueuse et un dévouement sans bornes, qui finirent par triompher de ce cœur rebelle et l’amener à une conversion sincère.
Sainte Élisabeth est célèbre par le don que lui fit le Ciel de rétablir la paix entre les princes et les peuples. Peu de Saintes ont montré tant de charité pour les membres souffrants de Jésus-Christ ; jamais aucun pauvre ne partait du palais sans avoir rien reçu ; les monastères qu’elle savait dans le besoin recevaient abondamment le secours de ses aumônes ; elle prenait les orphelins sous sa protection, dotait les jeunes filles indigentes, servait elle-même les malades. Tous les vendredis de Carême, elle lavait les pieds à treize pauvres, et, après les leur avoir baisés humblement, elle les faisait revêtir d’habits neufs. Le Jeudi Saint, elle remplissait le même office près de treize femmes pauvres. Or, un jour qu’elle lavait les pieds aux pauvres, il se trouva dans le nombre une femme qui avait au pied un ulcère dont la mauvaise odeur était insupportable : la reine, malgré toutes les répugnances de la nature, prit ce pied infect, en pansa l’ulcère, le lava, l’essuya, le baisa et le guérit. Un même miracle arriva un jour en faveur d’un pauvre lépreux.
Un jour qu’elle portait dans les pans de sa robe de l’argent pour les pauvres, son mari lui demanda à voir ce qu’elle portait, et il fut émerveillé d’y voir des roses hors de saison.
Après la mort du roi, elle voulait se retirer chez les Clarisses, mais on lui fit observer qu’elle ferait une meilleure œuvre en continuant ses libéralités envers les pauvres. Enfin,après une vie toute d’œuvres héroïques, elle fit une mort admirable, en saluant la très sainte Vierge, qui lui apparut, accompagnée de sainte Claire et de quelques autres saintes religieuses, le 4 juillet 1336, Benoît XII étant pape, Andronic III empereur de Byzance et Philippe VI de Valois roi de France.
SOURCE : http://www.cassicia.com/FR/Vie-de-sainte-Elisabeth-reine-de-Portugal-Fete-le-8-juillet-No_400.htm
Ste Elisabeth, reine et veuve
Déposition le 4 juillet 1336. Canonisée par Urbain VIII en 1625 ; fête inscrite au 4 juillet comme semidouble ad libitum. En 1722, semidouble de précepte, mais transféré au 8 juillet après l’Octave des Sts Apôtres.
Après Marguerite d’Écosse et Clotilde de France, une autre souveraine éclaire de ses rayons le Cycle sacré. Sur la limite extrême qui sépare au midi la chrétienté de l’infidélité musulmane, l’Esprit-Saint veut affermir par elle dans la paix les conquêtes du Christ, et préparer d’autres victoires. Élisabeth est son nom : nom béni, qui, à l’heure où elle vient au monde, embaume depuis un demi-siècle déjà la terre de ses parfums ; présage que la nouvellement née, séduite par les roses qui s’échappent du manteau de sa tante de Thuringe, va faire éclore en Ibérie les mêmes fleurs du ciel.
Hérédité mystérieuse des saints ! En l’année même où notre Élisabeth naissait loin du berceau où la première avait ravi les cieux à son lever si doux et pacifié la terre, une autre nièce de celle-ci, la Bienheureuse Marguerite, partie de Hongrie, quittait la vallée d’exil. Vouée à Dieu dès le sein de sa mère pour le salut des siens au milieu de désastres sans nom, elle avait rempli les espérances qui de si bonne heure étaient venues reposer sur sa tête ; les Mongols refoulés d’Occident, les loups chassés à leur suite de l’antique Pannonie redevenue quelque temps un désert, la civilisation fleurissant à nouveau sur les bords du Danube et de la Theiss : tant de bienfaits furent les fruits des vingt-huit années de prière et d’innocence que Marguerite passa ici-bas, attendant l’heure où elle transmit à la sainte que nous fêtons présentement la mission de continuer sous d’autres cieux l’œuvre de ses devancières.
Il était temps que le Seigneur dirigeât sur l’Espagne un rayon de sa grâce. Le treizième siècle finissait, laissant le monde à la dislocation et à la ruine. Las de combattre pour le Christ et bannissant l’Église de leurs conseils, les rois se retranchaient dans un isolement égoïste, où le conflit des ambitions tendait chaque jour à remplacer l’aspiration commune de ce grand corps qui avait été la chrétienté. Désastreuse pour tout l’Occident, pareille tendance l’était plus encore en face du Maure, dans cette noble contrée où la croisade avait multiplié les royaumes en autant de postes avancés contre l’ennemi séculaire. L’unité de vues, sacrifiant tout à l’achèvement de la délivrance, pouvait seule, dans ces conditions, maintenir les successeurs de Pelage à la hauteur des illustres souvenirs qui les avaient précédés. Malheureusement il s’en fallut que ces princes, presque tous héros sur les champs de bataille, trouvassent toujours la force d’âme suffisante pour mettre au-dessus de mesquines rivalités le rôle sacré que leur confiait la Providence. Vainement alors le Pontife romain s’efforçait de ramener les esprits au sentiment des intérêts de la patrie et du nom chrétien ; les tristes passions de l’homme déchu étouffaient sa voix en des cœurs magnanimes par tant d’autres côtés, et le Croissant applaudissait aux luttes intestines qui retardaient sa défaite. Navarre, Castille, Aragon, Portugal, sans cesse aux prises, voyaient dans chaque royaume le fils armé contre le père, le frère disputant au frère par lambeaux l’héritage des aïeux.
Qui rappellerait l’Espagne aux traditions, encore récentes, grâce à Dieu, de son Ferdinand III ? Qui grouperait de nouveau les volontés discordantes en un faisceau terrible au Sarrasin et glorieux au Christ ? Jacques Ier d’Aragon, le digne émule de saint Ferdinand dans la valeur et la victoire, avait épousé Yolande, fille d’André de Hongrie ; le culte de la sainte duchesse de Thuringe, dont il était devenu le beau-frère, fleurit dès lors au delà des Pyrénées ; le nom d’Élisabeth, transformé le plus souvent en celui d’Isabelle, devint comme un joyau de famille dont aimèrent à s’orner les princesses des Espagnes. La première qui le porta fut la fille de Jacques et d’Yolande, mariée à Philippe III de France, successeur de notre saint Louis ; la seconde fut la petite-fille du même Jacques Ier, l’objet des hommages de l’Église en ce jour, et dont le vieux roi, par un pressentiment prophétique, aimait à dire qu’elle l’emporterait sur toutes les femmes sorties du sang d’Aragon.
Héritière des vertus comme du nom de la chère sainte Élisabeth, elle devait mériter en effet d’être appelée mère de la paix et de la patrie. Au prix d’héroïques renoncements et par la vertu toute-puissante de la prière, elle apaisa les lamentables dissensions des princes. Impuissante un jour à empêcher la rupture de la paix, on la vit se jeter sous une grêle de traits entre deux armées aux prises, et faire tomber des mains des soldats leurs armes fratricides. Ainsi prépara-t-elle, sans avoir la consolation de le voir de ses yeux, le retour à la grande lutte qui ne devait prendre fin qu’au siècle suivant, sous les auspices d’une autre Isabelle, digne d’être sa descendante et de joindre à son nom le beau titre de Catholique. Quatre ans après la mort de notre sainte, la victoire de Salado, remportée sur six cent mille infidèles par les guerriers confédérés de l’Espagne entière, montrait déjà au monde ce qu’une femme avait pu, malgré les circonstances les plus contraires, pour ramener son pays aux nobles journées de l’immortelle croisade qui fait sa gloire à jamais.
Urbain VIII, qui inscrivit Élisabeth au nombre des Saints, a composé en son honneur un Office propre entier.
Selon l’invitation que l’Église adresse en ce jour à tous ses fils , nous louons Dieu pour vos œuvres saintes, ô bienheureuse Élisabeth ! Plus forte que tous ces princes au milieu desquels vous apparûtes comme l’ange de la patrie, vous portiez dans la vie privée l’héroïsme que vous saviez au besoin déployer comme eux sur les champs de bataille. Car c’était Dieu qui, par sa grâce, était le principe de votre conduite, comme sa gloire en était l’unique but. Or la divine gloire se complaît dans les renoncements qui ont le Seigneur pour seul témoin, autant et souvent plus que dans les œuvres admirées justement de tout un peuple. C’est qu’en effet sa grâce souvent y paraît plus puissante ; et presque toujours, dans l’ordre de sa Providence, les bénédictions éclatantes accordées aux nations relèvent de ces renoncements ignorés. Que de combats célèbres dans les fastes des peuples, ont été tout d’abord livrés et gagnés, sous l’œil de la Trinité sainte, en quelque point ignoré de ce monde surnaturel où les élus sont aux prises avec tout l’enfer et parfois Dieu lui-même ! Que de traités de paix fameux furent premièrement conclus dans le secret d’une seule âme, entre le ciel et la terre, comme prix de ces luttes de géants que les hommes méconnaissent ou méprisent ! Laissons passer la figure de ce monde  ; et ces profonds politiques qui dirigent, assure-t-on, la marche des événements, les négociateurs vantés, les fiers guerriers qu’exalte la renommée, apparaîtront pour ce qu’ils sont an palais de l’éternelle histoire : vains trompe-l’œil, masques d’un jour, ornements de façade qui voilèrent ici-bas les noms seuls dignes de l’immortalité.
Gloire donc à vous, par qui le Seigneur daigne dès maintenant lever un coin de ce voile qui dérobe aux humains les réalités du gouvernement de ce monde ! Votre noblesse, au livre d’or des élus, repose sur des titres meilleurs que ceux que vous teniez de votre naissance. Fille et mère de rois, vous aussi pourtant étiez reine, et commandiez sur une terre glorieuse ; mais plus glorieux est au ciel le trône de famille, où vous rejoignez la première Élisabeth, Marguerite, Hedwige, où d’autres vous suivront à leur tour, justifiant du même sang généreux qui coula dans vos veines.
Souvenez-vous cependant, ô mère de la patrie, que la puissance qui vous fut donnée ici-bas n’a point cessé de vous appartenir, quand le Dieu des armées vous a rappelée de ce monde pour triompher dans les cieux. La situation n’est plus la même qu’autrefois sur ce sol ibérique, qui vous doit plus qu’à bien d’autres son indépendance ; mais si les factions d’aujourd’hui ne risquent plus de ramener le Maure, il s’en faut qu’elles maintiennent le Portugal et l’Espagne à la hauteur de leurs nobles traditions : faites que ces peuples retrouvent enfin la voie des glorieuses destinées que leur marque la Providence. Du ciel où votre pouvoir ne connaît plus de frontières, jetez aussi un regard miséricordieux sur le reste du monde ; voyez les formidables armements dans lesquels les nations, oublieuses de tout autre droit que celui de la violence, engloutissent leurs richesses et leurs forces vives ; l’heure est-elle venue de ces guerres atroces, signal de la fin, où l’univers se détruira lui-même ? O mère de la paix, entendez l’Église, la mère des peuples, vous supplier d’user jusqu’au bout de votre auguste prérogative : apaisez la fureur des combats ; que cette vie mortelle soit pour nous un chemin pacifique conduisant aux joies de l’éternité .
 Invitat. festi.
 I Cor. VII, 31.
 Collecta diei.
Ce fut le pape Urbain VIII qui, en 1625, inscrivit cette attrayante figure de reine († 4 juillet 1336) vrai ange de paix, dans le catalogue des saints, et introduisit sa fête dans le Calendrier romain. La messe es du commun. Cependant la première collecte est propre et se rapporte à la grâce spéciale attribuée à la Sainte, de ramener à la concorde les peuples et les princes, alors en lutte entre eux. On sait en effet que la joie éprouvée à l’occasion de la naissance d’Élisabeth détermina, à la cour aragonaise, la réconciliation de son père et de son aïeul ; les historiens remarquent aussi que la mort surprit la bonne reine durant un voyage entrepris afin de rétablir la paix entre son fils et son gendre.
Prière. — « O Seigneur très clément qui, parmi tant d’autres dons splendide ?, avez accordé à la bienheureuse reine Élisabeth la prérogative d’apaiser la fureur de la guerre, par ses prières accordez à nos jours mortels cette paix que nous vous demandons instamment et qui nous conduira ensuite aux joies éternelles ».
La paix est l’harmonie dans l’ordre, c’est pourquoi il ne peut y avoir de paix que dans la juste sujétion de l’homme à Dieu, de la chair à l’esprit, du temporel à l’éternel. Cette harmonie dans l’ordre, c’est la grâce même de Jésus-Christ, qui, après que le péché est détruit, nous réunit à Dieu ut sint unum, comme Lui et son Père sont une identique essence.
Portuguese pavement, Coimbra : detail of the Seal of the University of Coimbra, with the depiction of a personification of Wisdom
Sainte Élisabeth, mère de la paix et mère de la patrie, obtenez-nous la paix.
1. Sainte Élisabeth. — Jour de mort : 4 juillet 1336. Tombeau : à Coïmbre (Portugal), au monastère des Clarisses. Image : une reine, avec des roses. Vie : une sainte sur le trône ! Élisabeth, reine de Portugal, née en 1271, fut une souveraine sainte, une mère de famille et une, mère du peuple exemplaire ; la grâce particulière que l’on demande par son intercession est le rétablissement de la paix (Or. : « Seigneur qui avez accordé à sainte Élisabeth, avec d’autres faveurs remarquables, l’insigne prérogative d’apaiser les ardeurs belliqueuses »). La prière des Heures rapporte entre autres détails sur sa vie les faits suivants : Dès sa naissance elle fit voir comment elle réussirait plus tard à établir la paix entre les rois et entre les peuples, car sa naissance causa une si grande joie que son père et son grand-père, séparés jusque-là par la discorde, se réconcilièrent... Elle donna sa main au roi Denys de Portugal (1279-1325). Pendant tout le temps de leur union, elle mit tout son zèle à progresser dans la vertu, à élever leurs enfants dans la crainte de Dieu, à plaire à son époux, mais avant tout au Seigneur. Elle jeûnait au pain et à l’eau à peu près la moitié de l’année. Pour échapper aux regards du roi, l’argent qu’elle voulait distribuer aux pauvres se changea en roses au cœur de l’hiver. De même qu’elle avait été jadis, jeune fille, un modèle pour les jeunes filles, épouse, un modèle pour les épouses, ainsi, après la mort du roi Denys, elle fut, dans sa retraite, pour les veuves un modèle de toutes les vertus. Elle assista avec la plus ferme résignation aux funérailles de son époux, revêtue du costume des Clarisses.
2. La Fête. — La messe est du . — La grâce spécialement soulignée dans l’oraison est celle de l’affermissement de la paix. — La prière des Heures met notre sainte en relief par des antiennes propres. « Toi, la gloire de Jérusalem ; toi, la joie d’Israël ; toi, l’honneur de ton peuple ». (Ant. de Bened.). « Élisabeth, mère de la paix et de la patrie, toi qui triomphes au ciel, obtiens-nous la paix ! » (Ant. de Magn.).
 commun des saintes femmes (Cognóvi)->343
SOURCE : http://www.introibo.fr/08-07-Ste-Elisabeth-reine-et-veuve#nh6
Elisabet of Portugal
Elizabeth of Aragon
Isabel of Portugal
Isabella of Portugal
formerly 8 July
Princess. Daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon and Constantia; great-granddaughter of Emperor Frederick II. Great-niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, for whom she was named. She had a pious upbringing with daily liturgy and praying of the hours, regular religious instruction and education. Married at age twelve to King Diniz of Portugal, and thus Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager.
The king was known for his hard work, his poetic nature, and his lack of morals. Elizabeth suffered through years of abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. Mother of two, Princess Constantia and Prince Affonso. She sometimes convinced the ladies of the court to help with her charity work, but most of the time she just incurred their jealousy and ill will. The king appears to have reformed late in life, though whether from Elizabeth’s faith or his imminent death is unknown.
Prince Affonso rebelled against the favours that King Diniz bestowed on his illegitimate sons, and in 1323 forces of the king and prince clashed in open civil war. Though she had been unjustly accused of siding with her son against the crown, Elizabeth rode onto the battlefield between them, and was able to reconcile father and son, and prevent bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.
In 1336 her son, now King Affonso IV, marched against his son-in-law, the King of Castile to punish him for being a negligent and abusive husband. Despite her age and ill health, Elizabeth hurried to the battlefield at Estremoz, Portugal, and again managed to make peace in her family, and thus maintain peace in her land.
miracles reported at her tomb
Saints of the Day, by Katherine Rabenstein
Short Lives of the Saints, by Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly
The Life of Saint Elisabeth, Queen of Portugal (Librivox audiobook)
“Saint Elizabeth of Portugal“. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 July 2021. Web. 3 July 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/saint-elizabeth-of-portugal/>
Retable of the Queen Saint Elizabeth (16th century), Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro
St. Elizabeth of Portugal
Queen (sometimes known as the PEACEMAKER); born in 1271; died in 1336. She was named after her great-aunt, the great Elizabeth of Hungary, but is known in Portuguese history by the Spanish form of that name,Isabel. The daughter of Pedro III, King of Aragon, and Constantia, grandchild of Emperor Frederick II, she was educated very piously, and led a life of strict regularity and self-denial from her childhood: she said the full Divine Office daily, fasted and did other penances, and gave up amusement. Elizabeth was married very early to Diniz (Denis), King of Portugal, a poet, and known as Rei Lavrador, or the working king, from his hard work in his country's service. His morals, however, were extremely bad, and the court to which his young wife was brought consequently most corrupt. Nevertheless, Elizabeth quietly pursued the regular religious practices of hermaidenhood, whilst doing her best to win her husband's affections by gentleness and extraordinary forbearance. She was devoted to the poor and sick, and gave every moment she could spare to helping them, even pressing her court ladies into their service. Naturally, such a life was a reproach to many around her, and caused ill will in some quarters. A popular story is told of how her husband's jealousy was roused by an evil-speaking page; of how he condemned the queen's supposed guilty accomplice to a cruel death; and was finally convinced of her innocence by the strange accidental substitution of her accuser for the intended victim.
Diniz does not appear to have reformed in morals till
late in life, when we are told that the saint won
him torepentance by her prayers and
unfailing sweetness. They had two children, a daughter Constantia and
a son Affonso. The latter so greatly resented the favours shown to the
king's illegitimate sons
that he rebelled, and in 1323 war was
declared between him and his father. St.
Elizabeth, however, rode in person between the opposing armies, and so
reconciled her husband and son. Diniz died in 1325, his son succeeding him as
Affonso IV. St. Elizabeth then retired to a convent of Poor
Clares which she had founded at Coimbra,
where she took the Franciscan Tertiary habit,
wishing to devote the rest of her life to the poor and sick
in obscurity. But she was called forth to act once more as
peacemaker. In 1336 Affonso IV marched his troops against the King
of Castile, to whom he had married his daughter Maria, and
who had neglected and ill-treated her. In spite of age and weakness,
the holy queen dowager insisted on hurrying to Estremoz, where
the two king's armies were drawn up. She again stopped the fighting
and caused terms of peace to be arranged. But the exertion brought on
her final illness; and as soon as her mission was fulfilled she died of a
fever, full of heavenly joy,
and exhorting her son to the love of holiness and
peace. St. Elizabeth was buried at Coimbra,
and miracles followed
her death. She was canonized by Urban
VIII in 1625, and her feast is
kept on 8 July.
Capes, Florence. "St. Elizabeth of Portugal." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909.8 Jul. 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05391a.htm>.
Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Paul T. Crowley. In Memoriam, Mrs. Margaret Crowley.
Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.
Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal - Queen
Born - 1271, Kingdom of Aragon
Died - 4 July 1336, Kingdom of Portugal
Feastday - 4 July
Canonized - 25 May 1625 by Pope Urban VIII
Statue created - c.1667-68
This statue is one of the group of sixteen erected between July and December 1668.
Sculptor - Lazzaro Morelli
Height - 3.1 m. (10ft 4in) travertine
The statue of St Elizabeth is closely allied in terms of iconography and formality with those of St Clare and St Catherine of Siena. These show the artist Morelli modeling a wide range of moves with large expansive folds.
St Elizabeth was married to King Diniz. Named after her great-aunt St Elizabeth of Hungary, she dedicated her life to the poor, establishing orphanages and homeless shelters. She is shown dressed as a nun, because as a widow she lived as a Franciscan tertiary at a Poor Clare convent at Coimbra.
Roma Sacra - San Pietro in Vaticano, Itineraries 21-22, ©Fabbrica of St. Peter's, July 2001
Le Statue Berniniani del Colonnato di San Pietro by Valentino Martinelli ©1987 by de Luca Editore s.t.l.
"Saint Elizabeth of Aragon in the Alvalade battlefield", Roque Gameiro - A TRIBO DOS PINCÉIS: Quadros da História de Portugal (1917). Pictures of the History of Portugal, 1917
Elizabeth was born in 1271. She was daughter of Pedro III of Arragon, being named after her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. At twelve years of age she was given in marriage to Denis, King of Portugal, and from a holy child became a saintly wife. She daily heard Mass and recited the Divine Office, but her devotions were arranged with such prudence that they interfered with no duty of her state. She prepared for her frequent Communions by severe austerities, fasting thrice a week, and by heroic works of charity. She was several times called on to make peace between her husband and her son Alphonso, who had taken up arms against him. Her husband tried her much, both by his unfounded jealousy and by his infidelity to herself. But God made known her innocence by a miracle; and her patience, and the wonderful sweetness with which she even cherished the children of her rivals, completely won him from his evil ways, and he became a devoted husband and a truly Christian king. She built many charitable institutions and religious houses, among others a convent of Poor Clares. After her husband’s death she wished to enter their Order, but being dissuaded by her people, who could not do without her, she took the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and spent the rest of her life in redoubled austerities and almsgiving. She died at the age of sixty-five, while in the act of making peace between her children.
In the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, Saint Elizabeth daily found strength to bear with sweetness suspicion and cruelty, and by that same Holy Sacrifice her innocence was proved. What succour do we forfeit by neglect of daily Mass!
But thou, when thou seest the priest offering the Sacrifice, consider not the priest who is ministering, but the hand of God invisibly outstretched. – Saint John Chrysostom
A slander affecting Elizabeth and one of her pages made the king determine to slay him, and he told a lime-burner to cast into his kiln the first page who should arrive with a royal message. On the day fixed the page was sent, but the boy, who was in the habit of hearing Mass daily, stopped on his way to do so. The king, in suspense, sent a second page, the very originator of the calumny, who, coming first to the kiln, was at once cast into the furnace and burnt. Shortly after, the first page arrived from the church, and took back to the king the lime-burner’s reply that his orders had been fulfilled. Thus hearing Mass saved the page’s life, proved the queen’s innocence, and wrought the king’s conversion.
Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Psalm 22:5
Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Elizabeth of Portugal”. , 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 February 2015. Web. 4 July 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/miniature-lives-of-the-saints-saint-elizabeth-of-portugal/>
Fragmento de iluminura francesa do século XVII, com representação de Santa Isabel de Aragão, Rainha de Portugal. Source : Veritas Art Auctioneers - Leilão 93 (Antiguidades e Obras de Arte), 10-12 Dezembro 2019
Elizabeth was born in 1271. She was daughter of Pedro III of Arragon, being named after her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. At twelve years of age, she was given in marriage to Denis, King of Portugal, and from a holy child became a saintly wife. She heard Mass and recited the Divine Office daily, but her devotions were arranged with such prudence that they interfered with no duty of her state. She prepared for her frequent communions by severe austerities, fasting thrice a week, and by heroic works of charity. She was several times called on to make peace between her husband and her son Alphonso, who had taken up arms against him. Her husband tried her much, both by his unfounded jealousy and by his infidelity to herself. A slander affecting Elizabeth and one of her pages made the king determine to slay the youth, and he told a lime-burner to cast into his kiln the first page who should arrive with a royal message. On the day fixed the page was sent; but the boy, who was in the habit of hearing Mass daily, stopped on his way to do so. The king, in suspense, sent a second page, the very originator of the calumny, who, coming first to the kiln, was at once cast into the furnace and burned. Shortly after, the first page arrived from the church, and took back to the king the lime-burner’s reply that his orders had been fulfilled. Thus hearing Mass saved the page’s life and proved the queen’s innocence. Her patience, and the wonderful sweetness with which she even cherished the children of her rivals, completely won the king from his evil ways, and he became a devoted husband and a truly Christian king. She built many charitable institutions and religious houses, among others a convent of Poor Clares. After her husband’s death, she wished to enter their order; but being dissuaded by her people, who could not do without her, she took the habit of the Third Order of Saint Francis, and spent the rest of her life in redoubled austerities and alms-giving. She died at the age of sixty-five, while in the act of making peace between her children.
Reflection – In the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, Saint Elizabeth daily found strength to bear with sweetness suspicion and cruelty; and by that same Holy Sacrifice her innocence was proved. What succor do we forfeit by neglect of daily Mass!
John Dawson Gilmary Shea. “Saint Elizabeth of Portugal”. , 1922. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 December 2018. Web. 4 July 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/pictorial-lives-of-the-saints-saint-elizabeth-of-portugal/>
Saint Elizabeth, who according to the testimony of the Roman Breviary, may serve as a most perfect model of all Christian virtues to all persons, whether in a single, married, or widowed state, was the daughter of Peter III, King of Aragon, and of Constants, daughter of Manfred, King of Sicily. From her earliest childhood she was extremely kind to the poor, and evinced the greatest inclination to piety. She was never seen at church except upon bended knees, in deep devotion. When she was eight years old she began to say daily the whole office of the Breviary, and this practice she continued during her life. At this time she began to fast, especially on Saturdays and vigils. Her disposition was truly angelical, and her whole being, all her words and actions, an index to her pure and innocent soul. The powers of her mind were far above her years, and her virtues made her honored and esteemed by all. In one word, her life was not only good but also holy.
She was married early in life to Dionysius, King of Portugal, but changed not her pious exercises; she rather made use of her altered circumstances to increase them. Three times during the year she fasted forty days on water and bread. She had certain hours appointed for devout exercises and for work. She was never seen idle, always occupied either in praying, pious reading or work. All her work was for the adornment of the churches or the comfort of the poor. The holy Sacraments she received much more frequently than is generally done by persons of such exalted station, and always with great devotion and preparation. When they made her high station the pretext for preventing her from her long prayers, continued work and extreme bodily austerity, she said: “Where are prayer and self-abnegation more necessary and useful than where evil inclinations are most violent and dangers greatest?” Charity to the poor and to the sick filled her heart, and she was wont to say: “The only reason, why God raised me to the throne was that 1 should have means to assist the needy.” To some of the poor she gave corn, to others clothing, and again for others she had houses built: none were sent away without alms in money. No day passed on which she did not herself visit some sick person, and God rewarded her great love towards the poor and sick by more than one miracle. One day, as she tenderly embraced a poor woman who was covered with ulcers, the woman immediately recovered. Every Friday during her forty days’ fasts, and also on Maundy Thursday, she washed the feet of thirteen poor women. Among these, one day, was a woman who had an ulcer on her right foot. The holy queen not only washed the foot, but, in her zeal to mortify her senses, she even kissed it, and the ulcer disappeared suddenly. At another time she restored the sight of a person who was blind from her birth, and also healed several sick by only making the sign of the holy cross over them. Once she was carrying in her apron a considerable sum of money to be divided among the poor. The king, who met her, asked her what she had? “Roses,” answered she; but, as it was not the season for flowers, the king was curious to see them. On opening her apron, the queen beheld, in reality, a quantity of roses; upon which the king, filled with astonishment, went away, while the queen gave humble thanks to God who had so graciously assisted her.
The king led a very licentious life, and although Elizabeth was deeply grieved at the offence he gave to God and the wrong he did to her, she never displayed the slightest impatience at his vices. Treating him with unvarying kindness, she obeyed him in all that was lawful, and never complained, but increased her prayers that God might touch his heart with the grace of repentance. For this end she also performed many penances, and offered them to God for the salvation of her spouse. At last she obtained what she had so ceaselessly prayed for: the king reformed and began to lead a Christian life. Still God permitted that a page should accuse the pious and chaste queen to her husband as unduly favoring a noble youth whom she employed as almoner. The credulous king, inflamed with wrath, gave orders to a lime-burner to seize and cast into the lime-kiln a young man, who would call on him on the next day and ask whether he had executed the royal command. The following morning, the king sent the queen’s almoner to the lime-pit with the message. Not knowing its import and passing by a church when the bell gave the signal for Mass, he entered, as he was accustomed to assist daily at the holy sacrifice, and not supposing that a delay in his errand would be of any consequence. Meanwhile the king was impatient to ascertain if his orders had been obeyed, and sent the accuser to the lime-pit to ask whether the royal command had been executed. The unhappy page obeyed, but hardly had the words passed his lips, when he was siezed and cast into the burning lime. Somewhat later, the other arrived with the same question, and, receiving the answer that the command had been duly fulfilled, he returned with it to his royal master. Greatly amazed at the sight of him, the king desired to know all that had happened, and, being informed of it, recognized the hand of Providence, and esteemed more highly than ever the innocence of the youth and the virtue of the queen. Some time later, Prince Alphonso headed a rebellion against his father, and although Elizabeth used every means in her power to prevent it, some wicked people persuaded the king that she was in favor of her son. Without investigating whether the accusation was true or false, the king deprived her of all her revenues, and banished her from the palace. But she bore this cross with humble submission to the decrees of Providence, and, not complaining against the king’s injustice, placed as usual her trust in the Lord, who forsook her not in this great trial. Soon after, the king became convinced of her innocence, called her back to Court and most humbly begged her pardon. At her solicitation and out of love to her, he also received again into favor his rebellious son, and ever after lived in perfect unity with his pious consort. When, before his end, he was visited with a most painful disease, the holy queen waited on him with the most admirable love and solicitude, and left him neither day nor night until he died, strengthened by the holy sacraments. No sooner had the king closed his eyes, than the holy queen went into an adjoining room, and, throwing herself down before the crucifix, she consecrated herself anew to the service of the Almighty. She then divested herself of all royal apparel, cut off her hair, and, clad in the habit of Saint Clare, entered the hall where the nobility of the realm had assembled. Announcing to them that she had laid aside her royal dignity, she left the Court, and went into the convent of Saint Clare, which she had founded and richly endowed, with the intention of joining the sisterhood. As it was, however, represented to her that she could do more in the world for the honor of God and the welfare of the needy, she had a dwelling erected for herself near the convent, where she passed the rest of her life in pious exercises and works of charity. Forgetting herself, all her thoughts were given to assist widows and orphans, and to comfort the sick and the prisoners. Twice she made a pilgrimage to Compostella, to the tomb of the holy apostle Saint James: the first, immediately after the death of the king; the second, at the time of the Jubilee. The latter, during which she begged alms for her sustenance, she performed unknown and on foot, accompanied by two other ladies. On returning from this last pilgrimage, she was informed that her son Alphonsus, now reigning king, was determined to make war upon a king nearly related to him. The holy widow, who had received from God the remarkable gift of bringing peace wherever she went, at once set out to reconcile the embittered hearts. When she arrived in Estremadura, she became dangerously ill, in consequence of the inconveniences she had suffered during the journey, and prepared herself carefully for her last hour. She received the holy Viaticum, in the habit of the sisters of Saint Clare, and on her knees, at the foot of the Altar.
People of both sexes, and in all stations of life may derive great benefit from the life of the holy queen Elizabeth.
1. Youth may learn to devote themselves, from early childhood, to prayer, the frequentation of churches, and to due reverence in the sacred edifices.
2. Single persons may learn to live retired and chaste and to preserve their virtue by prayer, fasting and frequent partaking of the Bless- ed Sacrament.
3. Married people may learn how to bear the faults of their spouses, to assist them in health and sickness, and to be solicitous for the welfare of their souls.
4. The widowed may learn from the holy queen to withdraw from worldly pleasures and abandon all luxurious apparel, to love solitude, assist their neighbors and occupy themselves in other good works.
5. Those whom God has placed in a higher station, may imitate her example, in humility, in love towards their neighbors, and in never neglecting the opportunities offered to them, to do good, to the honor of God and the comfort of the poor.
All Christians may imitate her devout exercises, her fasting, her almsgiving, and other deeds of kindness. If they cannot, like the holy queen, keep three fasts of forty days during the year, they ought at least tor observe strictly those fasts which are commanded by the holy Church. All may imitate her heroic patience in adversity, and place their trust in God, ceaselessly praying to Him for aid as she did. Lastly, all true Christians ought to imitate her devotion and love to the Queen of heaven, and call on her in the same words as those used by Elizabeth, in health and sickness, in life and in death. In our last moments, we shall need her help more than ever, and she is always willing to bestow it upon her children. She manifests herself particularly, at that time, as the refuge of sinners, and the comfort of all that are afflicted, as many histories prove. “The dying,” says Saint Jerome, “she not only assists, but comes to meet them.” She prays to God for a happy death for them. This grace, as it is the greatest we can expect, we should daily pray for, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. “Whoever desires to obtain favor of the Almighty,” writes Saint Bonaventure, “must, with all possible devotion, seek refuge with Mary: for as she is the Queen of Mercy, she cannot refuse anything to those who call upon her.” Therefore repeat often with lips and heart: “Mary, Mother of Grace, Mother of Mercy! Protect me from the wicked enemy, and receive my soul at the hour of my death;” or “Defend me from all evil, and remain my Queen and Mother. Assist me in my last combat, O Mother of Mercy!”
Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal”. , 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 March 2018. Web. 4 July 2020. <https://catholicsaints.info/weningers-lives-of-the-saints-saint-elizabeth-queen-of-portugal/>
Goya y Lucientes, Francisco. Saint Élisabeth du Portugal soignant les plaies d’une femme malade, 1799, 22 X 32, Museo Lazaro Galdiano
ST. ELIZABETH was daughter of Peter III. king of Arragon, and granddaughter of James I. who had been educated under the care of St. Peter Nolasco, and was surnamed the Saint, and from the taking of Majorca and Valentia, Expugnator or the Conqueror. Her mother, Constantia, was daughter of Manfred king of Sicily, and grandchild to the emperor Frederic II. Our saint was born in 1271, and received at the baptismal font by the name of Elizabeth, from her aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who had been canonized by Gregory IX. in 1235. Her birth established a good understanding between her grandfather James, who was then on the throne, and her father, whose quarrel had divided the whole kingdom. The former took upon himself the care of her education, and inspired her with an ardour for piety above her age, though he died in 1276 (having reigned sixty-three years,) before she had completed the sixth year of her age. 1
Her father succeeded to the crown, and was careful to place most virtuous persons about his daughter, whose example might be to her a constant spur to all virtue. The young princess was of a most sweet and mild disposition, and from her tender years had no relish for anything but what was conducive to piety and devotion. It was doing her the most sensible pleasure if any one promised to lead her to some chapel to say a prayer. At eight years of age she began to fast on vigils, and to practise great self-denials; nor could she bear to hear the tenderness of her years and constitution alleged as a reason that she ought not to fast or macerate her tender body. Her fervour made her eagerly to desire that she might have a share in every exercise of virtue which she saw practised by others, and she had been already taught that the frequent mortification of the senses, and still more of the will, is to be joined with prayer to obtain the grace which restrains the passions, and prevents their revolt. How little is this most important maxim considered by those parents who excite and fortify the passions of children, by teaching them a love of vanities, and indulging them in gratifications of sense! If rigorous fasts suit not their tender age, a submission of the will, perfect obedience, and humble modesty are in no time of life more indispensably to be inculcated; nor is any abstinence more necessary than that by which children are taught never to drink or eat out of meals, to bear several little denials in them without uneasiness, and never eagerly to crave anything. The easy and happy victory of Elizabeth over herself was owing to this early and perfect temperance, submissiveness, and sincere humility. Esteeming virtue her only advantage and delight, she abhorred romances and idle entertainments, shunned the usual amusements of children, and was an enemy to all the vanities of the world. She could bear no other songs than sacred hymns and psalms; and from her childhood said every day the whole office of the breviary, in which no priest could be more scrupulously exact. Her tenderness and compassion for the poor, made her even in that tender age to be styled their mother.
At twelve years of age she was given in marriage to Dionysius, king of Portugal. That prince had considered in her, birth, beauty, riches, and sprightliness of genius more than virtue; yet he allowed her an entire liberty in her devotions, and exceedingly esteemed and admired her extraordinary piety. She found no temptation to pride in the dazzling splendour of a crown, and could say with Esther, that her heart never found any delight in the glory, riches, and grandeur with which she was surrounded. She was sensible that regularity in our actions is necessary to virtue, this being in itself most agreeable to God, who shows in all his works how much he is the lover of order; also, a prudent distribution of time fixes the fickleness of the human mind, hinders frequent omissions of pious exercises, and is a means to prevent our being ever idle and being governed by humour and caprice in what we do, by which motives a disguised self-love easily insinuates itself into our ordinary actions. Our saint therefore planned for herself a regular distribution of her whole time, and of her religious exercises, which she never interrupted, unless extraordinary occasions of duty or charity obliged her to change the order of her daily practices. She rose very early every morning, and after a long morning exercise, and a pious meditation, she recited matins, lauds and prime of the church office. Then she heard mass, at which she communicated frequently every week. She said every day also the little office of our Lady, and that of the dead: and in the afternoon had other regular devotions after even-song or vespers. She retired often into her oratory to her pious books, and allotted certain hours to attend her domestic affairs, public business, or what she owed to others. All her spare time she employed in pious reading, or in working for the altar, or the poor, and she made her ladies of honour do the like. She found no time to spend in vain sports and recreations, or in idle discourse or entertainments. She was most abstemious in her diet, mean in her attire, humble, meek, and affable in conversation, and wholly bent upon the service of God in all her actions. Admirable was her spirit of compunction, and of holy prayer; and she poured forth her heart before God with most feeling sentiments of divine love, and often watered her cheeks and the very ground with abundant tears of sweet devotion. Frequent attempts were made to prevail with her to moderate her austerities; but she always answered, that if Christ assures us that his spirit cannot find place in a life of softness and pleasure, mortification is no where more necessary than on the throne, where the passions find more dangerous incentives. She fasted three days a week, many vigils besides those prescribed by the church; all Advent; a Lent of devotion, from the feast of St. John Baptist to the feast of the Assumption; and soon after this she began another Lent, which she continued to St. Michael’s day. On all Fridays and Saturdays, on the eves of all festivals of the Blessed Virgin and the apostles, and on many other days her fast was on bread and water. She often visited churches and places of devotion on foot. 3
Charity to the poor was a distinguishing part of her character. She gave constant orders to have all pilgrims and poor strangers provided for with lodging and necessaries. She made it her business to seek out, and secretly relieve persons of good condition who were reduced to necessity, yet out of shame durst not make known their wants. She was very liberal in furnishing fortunes to poor young women, that they might marry according to their condition, and not be exposed to the danger of losing their virtue. She visited the sick, served them, and dressed and kissed their loathsome sores. She founded in different parts of the kingdom many pious establishments, particularly an hospital near her own palace at Coïmbra, a house for penitent women who had been seduced into evil courses, at Torres-Novas, and an hospital for foundlings, or those children who, for want of due provision, are exposed to the danger of perishing by poverty, or the neglect and cruelty of unnatural parents. She was utterly regardless of her own conveniences, and so attentive to the poor and afflicted persons of the whole kingdom, that she seemed almost wholly to belong to them; not that she neglected any other duties which she owed to her neighbour, for she made it her principal study to pay to her husband the most dutiful respect, love, and obedience, and bore his injuries with invincible meekness and patience. Though King Dionysius was a friend of justice, and a valiant, bountiful, and compassionate prince, yet he was, in his youth, a worldly man, and defiled the sanctity of the nuptial state with abominable lusts. The good queen used all her endeavours to reclaim him, grieving most sensibly for the offence against God, and the scandal given to the people; and she never ceased to weep herself, and to procure the prayers of others for his conversion. She strove to gain him only by courtesy, and with constant sweetness and cheerfulness cherished his natural children, and took great care of their education. By these means she softened the heart of the king, who, by the succour of a powerful grace, rose out of the filthy puddle in which he had wallowed for a long time, and kept ever after the fidelity that was due to his virtuous consort. He instituted the Order of Christ in 1318; founded, with a truly royal magnificence, the university of Coïmbra, and adorned his kingdom with public buildings. His extraordinary virtues, particularly his liberality, justice, and constancy, are highly extolled by the Portuguese, and after his entire conversion, he was the idol and glory of his people. A little time before his perfect conversion there happened an extraordinary accident. The queen had a very pious, faithful page, whom she employed in the distribution of her secret alms. A wicked fellow-page envying him on account of this favour, to which his virtue and services entitled him, treacherously suggested to his majesty that the queen showed a fondness for that page. The prince, who by his own sensual heart was easily inclined to judge ill of others, gave credit to the slander, and resolved to take away the life of the innocent youth. For this purpose he gave order to a lime-burner, that if on such a day he sent to him a page with this errand to inquire, “Whether he had fulfilled the king’s commands?” he should take him and cast him into the lime-kiln, there to be burnt; for that death he had justly incurred, and the execution was expedient for the king’s service. On the day appointed he despatched the page with this message to the lime-kiln; but the devout youth on the road passing by a church, heard the bell ring at the elevation at mass, went in and prayed there devoutly; for it was his pious custom, if ever he heard the sign given by the bell for the elevation, always to go thither, and not depart till mass was ended. It happened, on that occasion, that as the first was not a whole mass, and it was with him a constant rule to hear mass every day, he staid in the church, and heard successively two other masses. In the meantime, the king, who was impatient to know if his orders had been executed, sent the informer to the lime-kiln, to inquire whether his commands had been obeyed; but as soon as he was come to the kiln, and had asked the question, the man supposing him to be the messenger meant by the king’s order, seized him, and threw him into the burning lime, where he was soon consumed. Thus was the innocent protected by his devotion, and the slanderer was overtaken by divine justice. The page who had heard the masses went afterwards to the lime-kiln, and having asked whether his majesty’s commands had been yet executed, brought him word back that they were. The king was almost out of himself with surprise when he saw him come back with this message, and being soon informed of the particulars, he easily discovered the innocence of the pious youth, adored the divine judgments, and ever after respected the great virtue and sanctity of his queen. 4
St. Elizabeth had by the king two children, Alphonsus, who afterwards succeeded his father, and Constantia, who was married to Ferdinand IV., king of Castille. This son, when grown up, married the infanta of Castille, and soon after revolting against his own father, put himself at the head of an army of malecontents. St. Elizabeth had recourse to weeping, prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, and exhorted her son in the strongest terms to return to his duty, conjuring her husband at the same time to forgive him. Pope John XXII. wrote to her, commending her religious and prudent conduct; but certain court flatterers whispering to the king that she was suspected of favouring her son, he, whom jealousy made credulous, banished her to the city of Alanquer. The queen received this disgrace with admirable patience and peace of mind, and made use of the opportunity which her retirement afforded, to redouble her austerities and devotions. She never would entertain any correspondence with the malecontents, nor listen to any suggestions from them. The king himself admired her goodness, meekness, and humility under her disgrace; and shortly after called her back to court, and showed her greater love and respect than ever. In all her troubles she committed herself to the sweet disposal of divine providence, considering that she was always under the protection of God, her merciful father. 5
Being herself of the most sweet and peaceable disposition, she was always most active and industrious in composing all differences between neighbours, especially in averting war, with the train of all the most terrible evils which attend it. She reconciled her husband and son, when their armies were marching one against the other; and she reduced all the subjects to duty and obedience. She made peace between Ferdinand IV., king of Castille, and Alphonsus de la Cerda, his cousin-german, who disputed the crown: likewise between James II., king of Arragon, her own brother, and Ferdinand IV., the king of Castille, her son-in-law. In order to effect this last she took a journey with her husband into both those kingdoms, and to the great satisfaction of the Christian world, put a happy period to all dissensions and debates between those states. After this charitable work, king Dionysius, having reigned forty-five years, fell sick. St. Elizabeth gave him most signal testimonies of her love and affection, scarcely ever leaving his chamber during his illness, unless to go to the church, and taking infinite pains to serve and attend him. But her main care and solicitude was to secure his eternal happiness, and to procure that he might depart this life in sentiments of perfect repentance and piety. For this purpose she gave bountiful alms, and caused many prayers and masses to be said. During his long and tedious illness he gave great marks of sincere compunction, and died at Santaren, on the 6th of January, 1325. As soon as he had expired, the queen retired into her oratory, commended his soul to God, and consecrating herself to the divine service, put on the habit of the third Order of St. Francis. She attended the funeral procession, with her husband’s corpse, to Odiveras, where he had chosen his burying-place in a famous church of Cistercian monks. After a considerable stay there, she made a pilgrimage to Compostella, and returning to Odiveras, celebrated there her husband’s anniversary with great solemnity; after which she retired to a convent of Clares, which she had begun to rebuild before the death of her husband. She was desirous to make her religious profession, but was diverted from that design for some time upon a motive of charity, that she might continue to support an infinity of poor people by her alms and protection. She therefore, contented herself at first with wearing the habit of the third Order, living in a house which she built contiguous to her great nunnery, in which she assembled ninety devout nuns. She often visited them, and sometimes served them at table, having for her companion in this practice of charity and humility her daughter-in-law, Beatrix, the queen then reigning. However, by authentic historical proofs it is evinced that before her death she made her religious profession in the aforesaid third Order, as Pope Urban VIII., after mature discussion of those monuments, has declared. 1
A war being lighted up between her son Alphonsus IV., surnamed the Brave, king of Portugal, and her grandson, Alphonsus XI., king of Castille, and armies being set on foot, she was startled at the news, and resolved to set out to reconcile them, and extinguish the fire that was kindling. Her servants endeavoured to persuade her to defer her journey, on account of the excessive heats; but she made answer that she could not better expend her health and her life than by seeking to prevent the miseries and calamities of a war. The very news of her journey disposed both parties to peace. She went to Estremoz, upon the frontiers of Portugal and Castille, where her son was; but she arrived ill of a violent fever, which she looked upon as a messenger sent by God to warn her that the time was at hand wherein he called her to himself. She strongly exhorted her son to the love of peace and to a holy life; she confessed several times, received the holy viaticum on her knees at the foot of the altar, and shortly after extreme unction; from which time she continued in fervent prayer, often invoking the Blessed Virgin, and repeating these words: “Mary, mother of grace, mother of mercy, defend us from the wicked enemy, and receive us at the hour of our death.” She appeared overflowing with heavenly joy, and with those consolations of the Holy Ghost which make death so sweet to the saints; and in the presence of her son, the king, and of her daughter-in-law, she gave up her happy soul to God on the 4th of July, in the year 1336, of her age sixty-five. She was buried with royal pomp in the church of her monastery of poor Clares, at Coïmbra, and honoured by miracles. Leo X., and Paul IV., granted an office on her festival; and in 1612 her body was taken up and found entire. It is now richly enshrined in a magnificent chapel, built on purpose. She was canonized by Urban VIII., in 1625, and the 8th of July appointed for her festival. 7
The characteristical virtue of St. Elizabeth was a love of peace. Christ, the prince of peace, declares his spirit to be the spirit of humility and meekness; consequently the spirit of peace. Variance, wrath, and strife are the works of the flesh, of envy, and pride, which he condemns, and which exclude from the kingdom of heaven. Bitterness and contention shut out reason, make the soul deaf to the motives of religion, and open the understanding to nothing but what is sinful. To find the way of peace we must be meek and patient, even under the most violent provocations; we must never resent any wrong, nor return railing for railing, but good for evil; we must regard passion as the worst of monsters, and must judge it as unreasonable to hearken to its suggestions as to choose a madman for our counsellor in matters of concern and difficulty; above all, we must abhor it not only as a sin, but as leading to a numberless variety of other grievous sins and spiritual evils. Blessed are the peacemakers, and all who love and cultivate this virtue among men, they shall be called the children of God, whose badge and image they bear. 8
Note 1. Urban VIII. Constit. 58. Com sicut. An. 1626. Bullar. Roman, t. 5. p. 120.
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/7/081.html
ST. ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL.
FEAST DAY: JULY 4TH
ELIZABETH was born in 1271. She was daughter of Pedro III. of Arragon, being named after her aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. At twelve years of age, she was given in marriage to Denis, King of Portugal, and from a holy child became a saintly wife. She heard Mass and recited the Divine Office daily, but her devotions were arranged with such prudence that they in- terfered with no duty of her state. She prepared for her frequent communions by severe austerities, fasting thrice a week, and by heroic works of charity. She was several times called on to make peace between her husband and her son Alphonso, who had taken up arms against him. Her husband tried her much, both by his unfounded jealousy and by his infidelity to herself. A slander affecting Elizabeth and one of her pages made the king determine to slay the youth, and he told a lime-burner to cast into his kiln the first page who should arrive with a royal message. On the day fixed the page was sent; but the boy, who was in the habit of hearing Mass daily, stopped on his way to do so. The king, in suspense, sent a second page, the very originator of the calumny, who, coming first to the kiln, was at once cast into the furnace and burned. Shortly after, the first page arrived from the church, and took back to the king the lime-burner's reply that his orders had been fulfilled. Thus hearing Mass saved the page's life and proved the queen's innocence. Her patience, and the wonderful sweetness with which she even cherished the children of her rivals, completely won the king from his evil ways, and he became a devoted husband and a truly Christian king. She built many charitable institutions and religious houses, among others a convent of Poor Clares. After her husband's death, she wished to enter their order; but being dissuaded by her people, who could not do without her, she took the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis, and spent the rest of her life in redoubled austerities and alms-giving. She died at the age of sixty-five, while in the act of making peace between her children.
REFLECTION.—In the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar, St. Elizabeth daily found strength to bear with sweetness suspicion and cruelty and by that same Holy Sacrifice her innocence was proved. What succor do we forfeit by neglect of daily Mass!
SOURCE : http://jesus-passion.com/saint_elizabeth_of_portugal.htm
ST ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, WIDOW (A.D. 1336)
This Elizabeth was daughter of Peter III, King of Aragon. She was born in 1271, and received at the font the name of Elizabeth, from her great-aunt, St Elizabeth of Hungary, but she is known in her own country by the Spanish form of that name, Isabella. Her birth was an omen of that title of "the Peacemaker" which she was to earn in after-life, for by it was established a good understanding between her grandfather James, who was then on the throne, and her father, whose quarrelling had divided the whole kingdom. The young princess was of a sweet disposition, and from her early years had relish for anything that was conducive to devotion and goodness. She desired to emulate every virtue which she saw practiced by others, for she had been already taught that mortification of the will is to be joined with prayer to obtain the grace which restrains our tendency to sin. This is often insufficiently considered by those parents who excite the wilfulness and self-indulgence of their children by teaching them a love of worthless things and giving in to every whim and want. Certainly, fasting is not good for them; but submission of the will, obedience, and consideration for others are never more indispensable than at this time; nor is any abstinence more fruitful than that by which children are taught not to drink or eat between meals, to bear little denials without impatience, and never to make a fuss about things. The victory of Elizabeth over herself was owing to this early training.
At twelve years of age she was married to Denis, King of Portugal. That prince admired her birth, beauty, riches and personality more than her virtue; yet he allowed her an entire liberty in her devotion, and esteemed her piety without feeling called on to imitate it. Elizabeth therefore planned for herself a regular distribution of her time, which she never interrupted unless extraordinary occasions of duty or charity obliged her. She rose early every morning, and recited Matins, Lauds and Prime before Mass; in the afternoon she had other regular devotions after Vespers. Certain hours were allotted to her domestic affairs, public business, or what she owed to others. She was abstemious in her food, modest in her dress, humble and affable in conversation, and wholly bent upon the service of God. Frequent attempts were made to induce her to modify her life, but without success. Charity to the poor was a distinguishing part of her character. She gave orders to have pilgrims and poor strangers provided with lodging and necessaries, and made it her business to seek out and relieve persons who were reduced to necessity. She provided marriage dowries for girls, and founded in different parts of the kingdom charitable establishments, particularly a hospital at Coïmbra, a house for penitent women at Torres Novas, and a refuge for foundlings. Nor with it all did Elizabeth neglect any of her immediate duties, especially those of respect, love and obedience to her husband, whose neglect and infidelity she bore with much patience.
For Denis, though a good ruler, was a bad subject: just, brave, generous and compassionate in public life, devoted to his realm, but in his private relations selfish and sinful. The queen used all her endeavours to reclaim him, grieving deeply for the offence to God and the scandal given to the people; she never ceased to pray for his conversion. She strove to gain him by courtesy and constant sweetness, and cheerfully cherished his natural children and took care of their education.
St Elizabeth had two children, Alfonso, who afterwards succeeded his father, and a daughter, Constance. This son when he grew up showed a very rebellious spirit, partly due to the favour in which his father held his illegitimate sons. Twice he rose in arms and twice his mother brought about a reconciliation, riding out between the opposing forces. But evil tongues suggested to the king that she secretly favoured her son and for a time she was banished from the court. Her love for concord and qualities as a peacemaker were indeed very notable; she stopped or averted war between Ferdinand IV of Castile, and his cousin, and between that prince and her own brother, James II of Aragon.
Her husband Denis became seriously ill in 1324, and Elizabeth gave all her attention to him, scarcely ever leaving his room unless to go to the church. During his long and tedious illness the king gave marks of sincere sorrow for the disorders of his life, and he died at Santarem on January 6, 1325. After his burial the queen made a pilgrimage to Compostela, after which she wished to retire to a convent of Poor Glares which she had founded at CoÏmbra. However, she was dissuaded, and instead she was professed in the third order of St Francis, and lived in a house which she built near to her convent, leading a life of great simplicity.
The cause of peace that had been so dear to her all her life was the occasion of Elizabeth's death, which came about on July 4, 1336 at Estremoz, whither she had gone on an errand of reconciliation in spite of her age and the great heat. She was buried in the church of her monastery of Poor Clares at CoÏmbra, and honoured by miracles; and eventually in 1626 her cultus was crowned by canonization.
The Bollandists in the Acta Sanctorum, July, vol. ii, have printed a life of the queen which seems to be of almost contemporary date, and a good deal of information may also be found in the chronicles of the period. See also P. de Moucheron, Ste Elisabeth d'Aragon (1896); and a short sketch by Fr V. McNabb (1937). The story (told by Butler in company with many others) of the innocent page saved miraculously from death in a lime-kiln is a mere fiction which can be traced back to the folk-lore of ancient India. See Cosquin in the Revue des Questions historiques, vol. lxxiii (1903), pp. 3-12, with vol. lxxiv, pp. 207-217; and Formichi in Archivio delle tradizioni populari, vol. xxii (1903), pp. 9-30. It is only in 1562 that we find it christianized and told in connection with St Elizabeth.
SOURCE : http://www.katolikus.hu/hun-saints/elizabeth-po.html
Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal, OFM Tert. Queen (RM)
Born in Aragon, Spain, 1271; died at Estremoz on July 4, 1336; canonized in 1625 (1626?); feast day formerly on July 8.
Jul 4 – St. Elizabeth of Portugal (1271-1336)
04 July, 2012
Elizabeth cared for lepers with her own hands and had an extraordinary knowledge.
Summary: St Elizabeth, of the house of Aragon, had an unhappy marriage with the King Denis of Portugal. When he died, she persevered in prayer and good deeds and as widow lived in poverty as a Franciscan tertiary. She is the Patroness of Catholic Charities.
Elizabeth of Portugal was an agent of peace both in her own family and between the nations of Portugal and Spain. She cared for lepers with her own hands and had an extraordinary knowledge. She also engaged in building projects: 20th century scholars identify an “isabeline” style of architecture called after her.
Patrick Duffy tells her story.
Marriage to King Denis of Portugal
Elizabeth, or Isabel, was born in Saragossa, Spain, in 1271, the daughter of Peter III, king of Aragón and Queen Constanza. She was christened Elizabeth after her great-aunt Elizabeth of Hungary. Many European monarchs sought to have her as a bride for their sons and one must wonder how much she understood when at the age of twelve she was married to King Denis of Portugal who was then twenty.
Elizabeth and Denis had two children. Their daughter, Constanza, was born after the couple had been married for eight years, and Afonso, the crown prince, a year later. But Denis fathered seven other children by other women. Elizabeth agreed to care for these and educate them.
One of her greatest trials, however, was that her own son Afonso allied himself with the Spanish kingdom of Castile in a bid to overthrow his father, who, he felt, favoured one of his half-brothers. Elizabeth had to mediate between the two men closest to her heart, husband and son, each of whom led an army. Denis, believing that his wife was intriguing against him, had her exiled to the fortified city of Alenquer. She accepted this and at times did succeed in bringing peace between them.
Elizabeth regularly attended the Liturgy of the Hours and sometimes even corrected the Latin of the clerical chanters. In 1320, she obtained from the bishop of Coimbra a proclamation establishing the solemn observance of the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on 8th December throughout the whole country.
Her building projects
She also engaged in a number of building projects. She had a convent built in Coimbra to house the Poor Clare nuns, as well as a house for herself next to the convent, a hospice for the aged poor, a hospital and an orphanage. She drafted the sketches herself, and managed the day-to-day progress of the projects. Twentieth-century scholars have identified the buildings that date back to Elizabeth by their common architectural features, speaking of an “isabeline” style of architecture.
Caring for lepers
Elizabeth would at times bring lepers to her private room, wash and bandage their wounds, replace their rags with clean clothes and serve them with a meal. One Good Friday, as the lepers were going away, one of them, unable to keep up with the rest, fell at the main entrance, where the doorkeeper found him. Not knowing of the queen’s secret works of mercy, the doorkeeper rebuked the sick man and hit him on the head with a stick.
Egg-white and effective remedy in healing wounds
One of the queen’s servants saw the incident and reported to the queen that the wounded man was bleeding profusely. Elizabeth immediately had him brought to a secluded room, where she washed the gash on his skull, and applied egg-white before bandaging it. When, the next day, the leper announced that he had no more pain, that the wound was closed and healed, the rumour spread that the queen had performed a miracle. Doctors have commented on this episode, praising Elizabeth’s medical knowledge. It seems that the protein and fibrinogenic components in egg-white can be an effective remedy for a bleeding wound. In 1779, the Portuguese Academy of Sciences chose St. Elizabeth as its patron saint.
Widowhood and death
King Denis became ill in 1324 and died the following year. Elizabeth nursed him and he was obviously repentant. After his death she went on pilgrimage to Compostela and, although she wanted to become a Poor Clare nun, she remained a Franciscan tertiary. She retired to the house she had built near the Poor Clare convent at Coimbra and devoted herself to the care of the needy.
Peace-making and death
In 1336 Elizabeth’s son, now King Afonso IV, went to war against Alfonso XI of Castile. Elizabeth was again able to make peace, but it wore her out and she died before she was able to return home.
Feast and canonisation
Pope Leo X authorised the celebration of her feast locally in 1516: Pope Urban VIII canonised her in 1626.
Parroquia Santa Isabel. Ubicada en el departamento de Tacuarembó
“Now thy brows are
I see thee what thou art, and know
Thy likeness to the wise below,
Thy kindred with the great of old.”
Chapter 1 – Parentage of Elisabeth – She is born – Receives the name of Saint Elisabeth, her great-aunt – She is affianced to the king of Portugal, and travels by land to her own kingdom
When a son of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary arrived, one day, as a page in the retinue of a certain prince, at the court of Queen Blanche, and of her son Saint Louis, neither the king nor the queen, as we are told, could shew honour enough to the “dear Saint Elisabeth,” as she was represented by her youthful son. The queen called him to her, took him by the hand, kissed his brow, made him sit beside her, and spoke to him of his mother.
On the present occasion, not a son, indeed, but a grand-niece of the saint of Marburg claims our regard; and all the more powerfully, on account of the rarity with which either sanctity, or extraordinary intelligence is perpetuated in the blood. Forty years had passed since the holy princess of Thuringia had been taken early to her rest, when another Elisabeth was born, to revive the name and the memory of her who had fallen asleep at Marburg. Andrew, king of Hungary, the father of the elder Saint Elisabeth, had a younger daughter, Violanta, by his second marriage, who became the wife of James, king of Aragon, called The Conqueror. Their reign was a fortunate one; the king doubled his possessions by the acquisition of Valentie and the Balearic Islands; he also acquired Murcia, as the price of his assisting King Alphonso of Castile against the Moors. His son, Peter, the Infante of Aragon, married Constantia of Sicily, a grand-daughter of the Emperor Frederic II; and their youngest child was the second Saint Elisabeth, the subject of this memoir.
Her birth occurred in 1271, during the life of her grandfather. Her only sister had already received the name of her grandmother, Violanta; the saint of Hungary had been canonised about forty years before; the parents of our little princess, therefore, thought that they could not do better than keep the name of Elisabeth in the family; so it was given to their little darling, at the font, no doubt with the expectation that her great-aunt would not be forgetful of her, in heaven.
At the time of her birth, her grandfather King James and her father the Infante Peter were not on speaking terms. It seems, however, that the old king took a great fancy to his little grand-daughter, and predicted that she would surpass all the ladies of the house of Aragon. At the same time he made up his quarrel with his son Peter; and, five years later, finished his long reign, leaving the father of our little princess king of Aragon. She was old enough to remember, in later years, seeing two kings and three queens following her grandfather’s remains to their place of sepulture at Poblete.
When the young Elisabeth was nine years of age, Alphonso, king of Portugal, dying, was succeeded by his son Dionysius. One of the earliest acts of his reign was to dispatch ambassadors to the court of Aragon, to solicit the hand of the princess Elisabeth, as his affianced bride. It so happened that they found ambassadors from two other courts, arrived on the same errand. Edward I of England wished to secure our young princess for his son; and Charles, king of Sicily, was a suitor, on behalf of his son Robert, who afterwards married Violanta, the elder sister of Elisabeth. It was with the greatest difficulty that her father could bring himself to part with his little favourite. Her sweetness of disposition was such, that he considered her very presence in his house a source of blessing to it, which he could ill spare. Even at this tender age, Elisabeth could not conceal her love of prayer and of almsgiving.
State policy and the remonstrances of his counsellors at length compelled her father to make an election for her, among her suitors. He determined that a king actually reigning was a more eligible match for his daughter than the heir-apparent to a throne; perhaps, too, the fact that Portugal was the nearest of the three kingdoms, may have helped him in his decision, as it promised him a better chance of sometimes seeing his beloved child. It seems, also, that she was related to both the English and the Sicilian princes, within the forbidden degrees, and her father declined the expense of procuring a dispensation from Rome. The matter was therefore decided in favour of Dionysius, king of Portugal. It was a barbarous kind of way, no doubt, of disposing of the future happiness of a mere child; but it was the custom of the age, and, indeed, of much later times, especially among persons of high rank. Nor, after all, are we quite so sure that if things were looked into very narrowly, matches, quite as summarily made, would not be found, even now, and among persons of very middling rank indeed.
The next step in the business was to send away the young queen to the court of her future husband. But now the question arose, How should she be sent? A land-journey, through a country devastated by war, appeared to the Portuguese ambassadors rather too great a risk to run; it was therefore proposed to send the bridal party by sea. On farther consideration, this was thought to be decidedly the more dangerous way of the two; so a land-journey through Valencia and Castile, was resolved upon. The bishop of Valencia, and a company of nobles and of knights, escorted the young queen, and her train of maids of honour, and of ladies in waiting. Her trousseau was of the costliest description. What became of it, we shall see by and by.
At a certain point in the journey, the king took an affectionate leave of his favourite child. He called himself the most unfortunate of men, to be thus robbed of his dearest treasure in life. He blessed her over and over again, adding that he had imparted to her all the advice he had to give; and that in gifts of mind as well as in disposition and manners, she left him nothing to desire. And so they parted; the little queen continuing her journey, with her maids and her ladies, surrounded by a cavalcade of Aragonese and Catalonian knights. On the confines of Portugal, they were met by a brother of king Dionysius, and by another cavalcade of Portuguese nobles and knights, to whom the Aragonese consigned their treasure. At Francoso king Dionysius was waiting to receive his bride; their nuptials were celebrated, and a settled provision made for the royal maintenance of the queen. Yet it was barely eleven years since the name of Saint Elisabeth had been given her at the font.
Chapter 2 – The young queen’s daily life – Birth of a daughter, and of a son and heir – Frequent wars – Elisabeth is a peace-maker – Conference of kings at Turiaso – Death of her daughter Constantia – Story of the hermit – War between the king of Portugal and his son the Infante – Elisabeth is deprived of her income – She makes peace several times between her husband and her son
This tender young creature, thus early assigned so conspicuous a position, began her new life by making such arrangements as should divide her time between her domestic duties and the service of God. Instead of the inexperience of eleven years, people seemed to see a degree of wisdom not often found even at five and twenty, or at thirty years. When she was not hearing mass, or reciting the canonical hour of prayer, she was spinning among her maidens and her ladies; or she was doing something for the poor, or trying to set people right who had fallen into trouble, or become the victims of oppression. The income which the king had settled on her found its way, in great part, into the hands of the poor, and into convents, and the houses of decayed ladies who were too high spirited to beg.
In her eighteenth year, her first child, Constantia, was born. Three years afterwards, the kingdom was rejoiced by the birth of an heir to the throne, at Coimbra. Alphonso, the young Infante of Portugal, afterwards married Beatrix, a daughter of Sancho, king of Castile. This young princess was, like her mother-in-law, sent as a child to the Portuguese court, and educated by Elisabeth as her future daughter.
King Dionysius, although kind and indulgent to his queen, was still more indulgent to himself, and led an irregular life, to the great injury and sorrow of Elisabeth. Her greatness of soul was never more remarkably evinced than in her way of managing him. She appeared blind and deaf to all that she disapproved of in her husband, never listening to stories about him, and never reproaching him. She had calculated well in her estimate of his character. Reproaches would only have hardened him; whereas her silence affected him with remorse for his ingratitude; and her forbearance was rewarded by his abandoning the irregular practices of which she had never complained, but to God.
There were in those days rather too many small kings in the limited area of the Spanish peninsula, to permit the country long to enjoy the blessings of peace. And, failing an independent sovereign to quarrel with, any one of the four peninsular kings was ready, on the shortest notice, to go to war with his brothers, or even with his eldest son. If a king of Aragon failed to find in his next neighbour of Navarre, or of Castile, an enemy ready to his hand, he had always his son, the Infante, to pick a quarrel with. If a king of Portugal found all of his three neighbours too pacific for his wishes, his father’s sons were nearer home, and more at his mercy. The life of kings was too generally one long brawl, continued at the ruinous expense of the country and of their unhappy subjects.
One of the cases which we have mentioned actually happened, within no long time after Elisabeth’s coming to Portugal. Her husband and his brother Alphonso went to war with each other, and much blood would have been wasted in the quarrel, had not Elisabeth engaged the good offices of the counsellors and prelates of the kingdom to make up matters between the brothers. And further to facilitate the business, she gave up the part of her revenue which she drew from the town of Cintra, and persuaded the king in other ways to increase the income of his brother.
Constantia, her eldest daughter, became the wife of Ferdinand IV, king of Castile (1301). The throne of Aragon was then filled by Elisabeth’s brother, James. War, almost as a matter of course, was engaged in, by those two sovereigns, against each other. Its nominal cause was a dispute about the possession of certain towns and lands of which the Moors had been deprived. The art of making peace, in which Elisabeth excelled, was again put in requisition; her efforts were seconded by the imminent risk of an attack from the Moors, while the Christian forces were destroying each other. Our gentle queen prevailed on the belligerents to meet at Turiaso, a town on the confines of Aragon and Castile, and to submit their claims to the arbitration of the king of Portugal. Elisabeth accompanied her husband to the conference (July, 1304); the queens of Castile and of Aragon also repaired to the place of meeting, attended by the flower of the nobility of both kingdoms. It was quite a family meeting for Elisabeth. She found her brother of Aragon, and she met her daughter of Castile. Her spirit of peace pervaded the proceedings of the conference; the decision of Dionysius gave satisfaction to all parties; new alliances were formed, and the assembly dispersed in perfect harmony. Elisabeth and her husband, however, prolonged their absence from home until September, returning to Portugal in time for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin. It is in allusion to her repeated successes in hushing the storm of war, that Elisabeth is called in her office in the Roman Breviary the Mother of Peace, and of her country.
The next incident in her family history is the marriage of her son Alphonso with Beatrix of Castile, a sister of Ferdinand IV. The event was celebrated at Lisbon, with great rejoicing (1309). In no long time after, however, our queen had to mourn the premature decease of her daughter Constantia, queen of Castile. A singular tale is related, in connexion with this sad event. Elisabeth and her husband happened, soon afterwards, to be travelling from Santarem to Lisbon, and on the way they stopped at Azambuja. Here the queen was met by a hermit, whom no one knew, and who cried out, In the name of God, my royal lady, I pray you to grant me an audience; for I have something important to tell you, and your attendants will not permit me to approach you. The queen having invited him to deliver his message, he went on to say that her deceased daughter Constantia had appeared to him in his cell several times, and had enjoined him to inform her mother of her detention in purgatory, and to beg that a mass might be said daily for her, for one year. The hermit had said this loud enough for the courtiers to hear. When he had finished, they began to chaff him, and to say. If Queen Constantia is in purgatory, is it a likely thing that she should appear to thee, rather than to her father or her mother? The hermit, meanwhile, disappeared; no one could give any account of him, and he was never seen again. Elisabeth, on conferring with her husband, resolved to act on the instructions she had received. She engaged a pious priest, of the name of Mendez, to say mass for her daughter, daily, for a year. At the expiry of the time fixed, Elisabeth was at Coimbra, and one night had a dream about her daughter, who appeared to her in white clothing, and thanked her for procuring her deliverance from the penal flames of purgatory. Elisabeth had quite forgotten that the year was expired, until Mendez came, next morning, to remind her of it, and to speak about continuing to say mass. She was much comforted about her beloved daughter, and gave thanks to God.
A few more years brought back the miseries of war; and, this time, the king of Portugal found an enemy in his eldest son, the Infante Alphonso. Secret measures were taken by the king to surprise his son at Cintra, in the night-time; not even Elisabeth was made privy to the scheme. She was first alarmed by her husband’s suddenly leaving her in the night, at Lisbon, and setting out, attended by troops; and at once suspecting the truth, she managed to dispatch a courier to Cintra, who rode faster than the soldiers, and reached it in time to give the young prince warning. He thus escaped from the trap laid for him, and went straight to Lisbon, to his mother, whom he had not seen for a long time. The queen kept him with her for a while, and spoke to him very seriously of his duty to the king, his father; and so dismissed him.
The most violent of the king’s counsellors instigated him to punish this interference of the queen’s as virtually abetting the young prince in his rebellion. Dionysius, still smarting under his late disappointment, too readily listened to the evil counsels of his courtiers, and sent Elisabeth an order to remove at once to Alanguera, at the same time depriving her of all her sources of income. This bitter trial found our holy queen prepared for the will of God. She at once obeyed the peremptory orders of her husband, and abandoned her court at Lisbon. Presently, numbers of the nobility flocked to her new residence, to offer her their castles for a home, and their swords to regain her rights. She thanked them very graciously for their good intentions, but declined all their offers, alleging her resolution to remain at the absolute disposal of the king. So dismissing her impetuous defenders, she collected about her a number of pious women, who passed their time with her, in fasting and abstinence, in prayer and the public recitation of the praises of God. By and by, her humility and moderation were acknowledged by the king, and she was restored to her rights as his queen.
But the war with the Infante still continued, to the bitter grief of the queen. Coimbra was held by her son, and his father was besieging it. Elisabeth had influence enough to bring about a meeting between them at Lieria, where the prince made an apology for his conduct, renewed his fealty to his father, and received back his income.
Jealousies subsequently arising again between them, the king rode out of Lisbon one day, to meet his son, and to forbid him to enter the city. The result was a fight between their respective followers. Elisabeth, hearing of it, rode out on a mule, into the thickest of the fray; none of her ladies ventured to follow her, yet she pushed on alone, through the storm of darts and stones, till she found the king; and then to the other side, in quest of the prince. She brought them once more together; the young Infante submitted, and kissed his father’s hand; the king gave him his blessing, and so they parted, finally reconciled, at the instance of this heroic lady.
Chapter 3 – The queen’s religious observances – Her love of fasting – Her charities – Her industrial school at Santarem
The practice of religious duties was by no means the least arduous part of Elisabeth’s daily life. She carried it far beyond the limits of mere obligation, impelled to what must appear to many good people to have been excessive, by the ardour of her devotional feeling, and by her profound spirit of penitence. Not satisfied with reciting the Divine Office every day, as it is in the Breviary, this holy queen also daily recited the Office of the Blessed Virgin and of the Dead. She carried about with her on her journeys, a portable oratory, in charge of her chaplains and her clerks, who chanted high mass every day in her presence. She also attended the service of vespers, every afternoon, in her oratory.
But the extent to which she carried the practice of fasting seems to belong rather to the cloister of a severe order than to the court of a reigning sovereign. During her husband’s life she was not permitted to carry the severity of her practice as far as she wished, but was obliged to restrict herself to three fast days in the week, and to Lent and Advent, and the eves of saints. When she became free to follow her own inclination in this respect, she kept every Friday and Saturday in the year, and the vigils of the Apostles, of the Holy Virgin, and of the saints to whom she had a special devotion, as fast-days, on bread and water. In like manner, besides Advent and Lent, she observed an additional Lent in the year, from Saint John Baptist’s day (June 24) to the Assumption; and yet a third, called the Lent of the Angels, from the Assumption till Saint Michael’s day. There could not have been thirty days in the year on which she tasted anything better than bread and water.
Her piety also frequently incited her to visit holy places, and churches served by religious communities distinguished for their devout lives. The poor in the neighbourhood of these places, and all along the road to them, reaped a rich harvest from her bounty at such times; indeed, such was the reputation of her sanctity, that many persons used to feign poverty for the occasion, in order to receive a trifle from her hands. The queen was a constant visitor of the sick, smoothing their pillows for them, and prescribing for their maladies, for she had some skill that way. Among her poor friends, she manifested especial compassion for those who were too high-spirited or too shy to ask for alms; she said that they were often worse off than the poor; and many of them she had the happiness of restoring to competence and their former position in society. She conferred many favours on poor young women, by clothing them, and settling dowries upon them to facilitate their marriage. And all this was accomplished with as much secrecy as was possible. For this holy lady shrank from the whisper of her own praises.
In her many journeys about her kingdom, no sick or poor person and no prisoner had to complain of being overlooked by the queen in her charities and her alms. Nor among the useful applications of her income did she refuse to reckon assistance given to various public works; such as churches, hospitals, bridges, and fountains. Nothing, in short, that had for its object the good of her people, failed to secure her co-operation.
During Holy Week, she redoubled her alms and her works of mercy. On Maunday Thursday, she washed the feet of poor women; the following day, she distributed alms among a multitude of the poor; and while attending the services of Good Friday, she manifested the grief of her soul at the remembrance of the passion and death of Jesus Christ. The practice of frequently communicating was not so common as it is now; we must therefore not be surprised to be told that Elisabeth received holy communion only three times in the year, at Christmas, Easter, and at Pentecost. It would be well if some of our daily communicants approached a little more nearly the perfection of her Christian life.
Among the religious foundations which owed their endowment to the charity of the queen, there was one which has an especial interest for us, as it seems to have anticipated the application of industrial training to the education of poor children, a principle which has received the highest sanction in our own day. The bishop of Eidania, an episcopal see afterwards translated to Guarda, had begun to build an hospital for the poor foundlings, in the town of Santarem; but finding himself on his death-bed before the hospital was finished, he entreated the queen to take it under her patronage, and fulfil his intentions, for the love of God. Elisabeth readily undertook the duty thus bequeathed to her. The hospital was enlarged, and more amply endowed; and became the home of poor foundlings. When the queen went down to visit them, she served them at table with her own hands.
Under her directions, as soon as the children were old enough, they were taught useful trades, by which they might earn their livelihood; and as soon as they were able to do so, they ceased to be a burden on the house, until they fell sick, when the hospital again took charge of them.
Chapter 4 – The king dies – The queen goes to Santiago – Builds a convent at Coimbra, and resides near it – Her daily life – She goes to Estremoz, to make peace, and dies – Her tomb – Her canonisation – Miracle of the Roses – Tale of Fridolin
Such was the tenour of our holy queen’s married life, until it pleased God to deprive her of her husband. During the long illness which preceded his death, the queen waited on him like a domestic servant, discharging the duties of a sick nurse with unwearied affection. He died, at last, in the castle of Santarem, when the year 1325 was hardly a week old; and was buried at the Cistercian convent of Odivellas, which he had founded, near Lisbon.
In the first hour of her widowhood, Elisabeth assumed the dress of a Franciscan nun. The following summer she made a pilgrimage to Santiago, in time to keep the festival of the apostle Saint James at his tomb. At high mass on that day, celebrated by the archbishop, the queen offered her royal crown, together with robes of the most costly kind, which she had worn at state ceremonies, the richest drinking vessels! of her table, and stuffs of untold value from the looms of Portugal and of Aragon. On her return from the tomb of the apostle, she attracted vast crowds of people about her; for her reputation had preceded her, and they flocked together to see her as she passed. In going to Santiago she had avoided this, by keeping her destination secret, till she was almost within sight of the place.
At the expiry of a year from the king’s death, Elisabeth is found at the convent of Odivellas, celebrating his anniversary, in company with the young king Alphonso, her son, and the nobility and clergy of the kingdom. Returning to Coimbra, where she then chiefly resided, she gave directions to have all her silk dresses, some of them richly interwoven with gold, cut up, and made into vestments, for distribution among the churches, according to the poverty of their wardrobes. Her gold plate was also broken up, to make chalices, crosses, thuribles and lamps. The remainder of her jewels she divided between her daughter-in-law Queen Beatrix, and her grand-daughters. Queen Mary of Castile, and Queen Eleanor of Aragon.
The queen had lately commenced a great undertaking at Coimbra; a convent for the nuns of Saint Clare. We are told that she was an excellent judge of architecture, and frequently made suggestions which were found to improve her architect’s plans. While the building was in progress, she gathered around her a few pious women, who wished to devote themselves to the service of God, and in due time to enter the convent. Among them was a lady of royal blood, a cousin of the queen’s, who took a large fortune with her into the convent, and became its second abbess. The church was the first part of the work that was finished. It was named after Saint Clare, the disciple of Saint Francis. The queen directed that her own tomb should be prepared in it. The completion of the refectory, the dormitory, the infirmary, and the kitchen soon followed, and the whole was surrounded with a high wall. In the immediate neighbourhood of the convent, a suitable residence was built for the queen and her attendants, and close to it a chapel, and two hospitals, one for fifteen poor men, and the other for a similar number of poor women.
When the whole establishment was finished, the queen took serious counsel with her advisers, as to her own future life, whether she would do better to enter the convent herself, or remain without, dispensing her charities among numbers of the indigent. Her advisers represented to her, that in the circumstances of the ease, she would do more good by serving God in the world. She at once resigned her favourite plan of becoming a daughter of Saint Clare, and made her arrangements accordingly. The day when the nuns took possession of their new convent, Elisabeth and her daughter-in-law, Queen Beatrix, by special permission obtained from Rome, were present in the refectory. When the nuns were all seated, the queens carried their food from the kitchen, and served it to them at table.
Elisabeth then took up her residence in the new buildings close by. She spent much of her time in the church and among the nuns, singing the Divine Office with them every day, and encouraging them in the service of God. The neighbouring hospitals supplied her with many opportunities of active duty among the sick. This mode of life began about six years after her husband’s death.
Let us follow her through one of her ordinary days. Five of the nuns of Saint Clare resided with her; she rose with them before dawn, to recite matins, lauds and prime. After prime, they prepared the altar in the queen’s private oratory, for mass. When this private mass was finished, the queen repaired to the chapel of her residence, where two high masses in succession were sung in her presence, her household also attending. One of these masses was always a mass of requiem for the soul of her husband. By the time that they were finished, and the rest of the Hours sung, it was the hour for going to dinner.
After dinner the queen gave audience to all sorts of people, who had business with her; to the superintendents of her works in various places, to religious or to secular persons, who had petitions to present; in short, to all, whether rich or poor, who had a mind to address her on any subject. The principles of the largest charity regulated her reception of persons who frequented her levees.
In the afternoon, vespers were sung in her chapel; and when it was not a fast-day (which was not often), the queen went to supper. This repast was immediately followed by Complin, and the Office of the Dead. Then she retired to her bed-chamber, and her nuns and her household to theirs. But this pious soul did not retire to sleep. She generally spent the greater part of the night in meditation and prayer, and often rose from bed to resume her spiritual exercises. So strong is the yearning of holy souls towards that place where their communion with their Lord is subject to no interruption from the demands of nature for repose; where there is no night, because there is no weary body to repair, no exhausted spirits to renovate.
The last year but one of her life the queen once more visited the tomb of Saint James at Santiago; but this time she went on foot, with few attendants, dressed like a poor pilgrim, and begging her way along the road, from house to house, both going and returning – an astonishing effort for a woman sixty-four years of age. By this means she escaped the crowds which had distressed her humihty on her former journey.
A great opportunity for the inexhaustible charity of the queen occurred, while she was residing at her convent, near Coimbra. Her kingdom was visited by a famine, which destroyed numbers of the poor. The liberality of Elisabeth was so profuse, in her efforts to mitigate the sufferings of her people, as to provoke the remonstrances of her attendants that she left nothing for herself and her household.
The latest act of her beautiful life was faithful to the spirit of peace which it had been her mission, for more than fifty years, to propagate among the crowned heads of the Spanish peninsula. The rumour reached her in her retreat at Coimbra that her son, Alphonso of Portugal, was about to plunge the kingdom in the disasters of war, in consequence of a quarrel with her grandson, Alphonso of Castile. Her immediate impulse was to sacrifice the calm routine of her life, and set out at once in search of the belligerents, with the intention of using her old influence to promote peace. Her attendants urged the inexpediency of her undertaking a long journey, during the hot season, and at her advanced age. But in such a cause no difficulties could turn her from her purpose. In this her last effort she received the crown of her many virtues.
She had got as far as Estremoz when the king, her son, met her; but here she was taken ill with a tumour in her arm. On the Monday after, she was unable to rise for mass, Queen Beatrix, her daughter-in-law, attended her very carefully, rallying her spirits, and doing all she could to cheer her mother, and alleviate her sufferings. While Queen Beatrix was sitting by the invalid’s bed, Elisabeth suddenly turning to her companion, said, “My daughter, pray give place to this lady who is coming.” “What lady, my august mother?” was the answer of Beatrix, who saw no one. “That is she,” rejoined the sick queen, “who is coming to me, in a white dress.” Still Queen Beatrix could see nothing. Neither did Elisabeth say more; they were therefore left to conjecture that the Mother of Jesus was near, to comfort her sick daughter, who had always cherished a warm affection for the Queen of Angels.
On the Thursday the queen saw her confessor early in the morning, and heard mass in her chamber. When it was finished, she rose without assistance, and went out of her chamber to the altar where her confessor was then saying mass, and kneeling down she received holy communion with great devotion and many tears. In the afternoon of the same day, she was conversing with the king, after vespers, and as the physicians maintained that there was no danger in her complaint, she begged her son to leave her and go to supper. He had supped already; but he went outside the door of her chamber with the physicians. While they were standing outside the door, the queen rose from her bed, and stood leaning against it; all of a sudden she began to sink. Her attendants called the king, who ran in, took his mother’s hands and kissed them. She presently recovered a little, spoke of her fainting, and conversed awhile with the king about the princess Eleanor, her favourite grandchild, and about all her grandchildren. While they were conversing, the queen feeling her end approaching began to pray – “Mary, Mother of Grace, Mother of Mercy, protect me from my enemy, and receive me in the hour of my death.” She then repeated the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers; and as she went on, she grew fainter and fainter, till her words were no longer audible. Thus, still praying, she ended her life of prayer in the castle of Estremoz, on Thursday, July 4th, 1336.
She had often entreated our Lord that her son might be present at her death, and even this little favour was granted her. When her holy soul had departed, her eyes and her mouth are said to have closed of their own accord.
Next day the funeral train set out to convey her precious remains to her convent at Coimbra. The journey occupied seven days, and it was regarded as something more than a natural occurrence, that, notwithstanding the great heat, the body of the queen exhibited no signs of decay on its arrival at its last resting-place. It was laid with great ceremony in the tomb which the queen in her lifetime had prepared for it, among her nuns.
Many instances of divine interposition are recorded, in behalf of devout persons who visited that tomb, during the two following centuries. It was reserved for Leo X at the instance of Emmanuel, king of Portugal, to permit the public honours due to a saint to be paid to Elisabeth within the city and the diocese of Coimbra; a privilege which was confirmed by Paul IV and extended to the whole of Portugal.
The inquiries set on foot by the eminent biographer of Saints, the Carthusian Surius, for his Lives, seem to have much promoted the knowledge and the honour of Elisabeth both in Portugal and throughout the Catholic world; in fact, the collections made for him ultimately became the basis of the process of her canonisation. In 1619, the tomb of the saint was opened in presence of a commission of inquiry, consisting of clergymen and of medical men, and the body “was found to be incorrupt. The decree of her canonisation was finally pronounced by Urban VIII., 1625. Innocent XII, seventy years later, changed the day of her festival to the 8th of July, on which it is now universally kept, and made the recitation of her office of obligation throughout the church. The beautiful office in the Roman breviary is attributed to the pen of Urban VIII himself.
Saint Elisabeth is perhaps best known out of her own kingdom by the miracle of the roses – a legend which is, however, not found in the oldest biography, and which is also attributed to Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, and to Blessed Germain Cousin, the Shepherdess of Toulouse, lately beatified. The legend relates, that on one occasion, wishing to conceal from her husband the alms she was distributing to a number of poor persons, her lap was found to be full of roses, in the winter time. Another anecdote is recorded of her, which must be familiar to some of our readers, in Schiller’s tale of Fridolin. It is to the following effect:
A courtier, desirous of making mischief between Elisabeth and the king, accused her of too great intimacy with a young page. The king believed the tale, and prepared a terrible punishment for the youth. Orders were given to the workmen about a smelting furnace, to throw into the boiling metal the first messenger who should come to them from the king, on a particular morning. The page was accordingly directed to go to the furnace, and ask the men if the royal order had been obeyed. As he hastened to it, unconscious of his fate, he heard a chapel bell in the forest tinkling for mass. He paused, entered the chapel, and served the mass. The king, meanwhile, impatient to hear that his orders had been obeyed, dispatched the accuser of the page to the furnace, to make inquiry. He reached it before the young man had left the chapel, was seized by the workmen, in obedience, as they imagined, to the king’s orders, and amidst vain struggles and protests was hurled into the lake of molten metal. When the page arrived, he was informed that the king’s commands had been obeyed; and he hastened back with the message, to the horror and confusion of his master.
The count stood still, an icy chill
Crept o’er each shaking limb:
“But Robert to the wood I sent –
Hast thou not met with him?”
“No trace of Eobert, sir, I saw,
By wood or field or road!”
“Now,” cried the count in sudden awe,
“This is the hand of God!”
With gentler mien than his wont had been
His servant’s hand he took,
And he led him to his wondering wife
With a chang’d and thoughtful look:
“This child is pure and clean of heart –
No angel purer is:
Though I was led by treacherous art,
God and his hosts are his!”
The reader who desires more particular information, will find it in the Life of the Saint, edited by Father Conrad Janning, S.J., Acta SS. Bolland., July 4th. The author of this Life, though anonymous, is presumed to have been nearly contemporary with the Saint. The manuscript written in Portuguese, was found in the convent of Saint Clare, at Coimbra. The learned notes of F. Janning must be received with caution, where they refer to English history; as for example, where he makes Edward IV to reign from 1273-1307; and Edward VI, the Sovereign of England, at the queen’s death in 1336. Edward I and Edward III would have been nearer the truth.
In Portugal, as in Spain, the name of Elisabeth, by a slight transposition of letters, is frequently called Isabella: Elisabe – Isabele – Isabella.
The text of this article is taken from the short book The Life of Saint Elisabeth, Queen of Portugal, by “A Secular Priest”, published in London, England in 1900, which was later published as part of the book The Sainted Queens.
Alla corte della casa reale di Portogallo, Elisabetta non tralasciò le buone abitudini prese pur non trascurando i nuovi doveri di regina e di sposa. Continuò a levarsi di buon mattino per andare in cappella ad ascoltare la Messa in ginocchio, fare sovente la comunione, e dire l'ufficio della SS. Vergine e dei morti. Dopo pranzo ritornava in cappella per terminare l'ufficio divino, fare letture spirituali e abbandonarsi a svariate orazioni tra un profluvio di lacrime. Il tempo libero lo impegnava a confezionare suppellettili per le chiese povere, con l'aiuto delle dame di corte. A queste buone opere altre ne aggiunse di mano in mano che veniva a conoscenza delle pubbliche necessità. Non ci furono difatti chiese, ospedali o monasteri alla cui costruzione ella non contribuisse con regale generosità. Alcuni ne fece costruire, ella stessa, a Santarém e a Coimbra.
La sua ultima fondazione fu una cappella in onore della SS. Vergine nel convento della Trinità, a Lisbona. Essa fu il primo santuario in cui si sia venerata l'Immacolata Concezione. Prima di morire volle pure istituire una confraternita intitolata alla SS. Trinità.
Perché il suo spirito fosse sempre pronto alla contemplazione, Elisabetta digiunava abitualmente tre volte alla settimana, tutta la quaresima, tutto l'avvento e dalla festa di S. Giovanni Battista all'Assunta. I venerdì e i sabati che precedevano le feste della SS. Vergine si cibava soltanto di pane e acqua. Nella sua sete di penitenza, ella si sarebbe data ad altre austerità, se il marito glielo avesse permesso. I medici le ordinarono, per un certo tempo almeno, di abbandonare le mortificazione di gola, ma ella continuò a bere dell'acqua. Un giorno però Iddio intervenne a favore dei discepoli di Esculapio, mutando in vino una brocca d'acqua che le era stata portata.
Anche la carità di Elisabetta per i poveri e i nobili decaduti fu incomparabile. Al suo elemosiniere aveva dato ordine di non mandare mai via nessun bisognoso a mani vuote. Ella fece inviare dei viveri a monasteri poveri e a regioni colpite dalle avversità; protesse gli orfani; soccorse le giovani pericolanti; tutti i venerdì di quaresima, dopo aver lavato e baciato i piedi a tredici poveri, li faceva vestire di abiti nuovi; il giovedì santo compiva la medesima opera buona a favore di tredici donne. A contatto delle sue mani e delle sue labbra, una malata guarì da una piaga al piede e uno storpio lebbroso, da entrambe le infermità.
Nel 1290 Elisabetta diede alla luce una figlia, Costanza, che in seguito fu maritata a Ferdinando IV di Castiglia. L'anno dopo partorì l'erede al trono, Alfonso IV il Valoroso. Per la sua famiglia Elisabetta fu un vero angelo tutelare. Ella non si accontentò di dare dei buoni consigli ai figli, ma esortò anche il marito a governare i sudditi con giustizia e mitezza senza dare ascolto ai vani discorsi degli adulatori o ai falsi rapporti degli invidiosi. Tuttavia, dopo qualche anno passato nella concordia e nella più dolce intimità con lui, Dio permise che cominciasse, per Elisabetta, un vero calvario a causa degli illeciti amori ai quali il re, a poco a poco, si abbandonò. Elisabetta se ne afflisse più per l'offesa fatta a Dio che per l'affronto fatto a lei. Con dolcezza cercò di ricondurlo sul retto cammino e, senza uscire in amari lamenti, spinse il suo eroismo fino a curare l'educazione dei figli naturali di lui come se fossero propri. La nobiltà, temendo che i bastardi del re acquistassero troppo ascendente nel paese, eccitarono alla rivolta il figlio ereditario. Alfonso prese difatti le armi contro il padre, con immenso dolore di Elisabetta, la quale si schierò dalla parte del sovrano e cercò ripetutamente di rappacificare i due avversari. Siccome erano sordi alle sue esortazioni, ella moltiplicò le preghiere, i digiuni e anche le lettere di rimprovero al figlio.
Ciononostante cortigiani mal intenzionati giunsero a far credere al re che la sua consorte aiutava segretamente il figlio ribelle. La calunnia fu creduta dal sovrano, il quale privò Elisabetta della signoria di Leiria, che le apparteneva e la confinò nella fortezza di Alemquer. Parecchi grandi del regno andarono ad offrirle i loro servigi, ma la Santa preferì affidarsi alle mani della divina Provvidenza anziché permettere di venire reintegrata nei suoi diritti con le armi. Il re riconobbe al fine il suo torto, richiamò Elisabetta e le diede in appannaggio la città di Torres-Vedras.
La regina continuò ad adoperarsi affinchè nella sua famiglia ritornasse la pace. Al tempo dell'assedio di Coimbra (1319), da parte di suo figlio, la madre si portò a cavallo in mezzo ai soldati delle opposte fazioni, con un crocifisso in mano, e riuscì a riconciliare padre e figlio. La guerra ricominciò più violenta poco tempo dopo a Lisbona. Elisabetta, che preferiva la pace a tutto l'oro del mondo, montò sopra una mula e si slanciò tra i due eserciti per scongiurarli, con le parole e con le lacrime, a scendere a patti. In quelle circostanze la Santa riuscì a pacificare per sempre i due contendenti.
Elisabetta aveva iniziato il suo compito di pacificatrice in occasione delle contese sorte tra suo marito e suo cognato, il turbolento Alfonso di Portalegre, a motivo di qualche possedimento. La santa aveva evitato che venissero alle mani cedendo a Dionisio parte delle sue rendite, per risarcirlo delle terre che era stato costretto a cedere al fratello. Anche presso il rè di Spagna l'intrepida regina svolse opera di pace affinchè potessero fare blocco nella lotta contro i mori. Impedì difatti una guerra tra suo marito e il genero, Ferdinando IV di Castiglia.
Dionisio, alla preghiera della sposa, si convertì e passò accanto a lei gli ultimi anni di vita. Al tempo dei suoi disordini, la regina si serviva di un paggio di fiducia per far giungere le elemosine ai bisognosi. Un paggio del re, geloso di quella preferenza, decise di perderlo, accusandolo al sovrano di illecite relazioni con la regina . Dionisio gli prestò fede, se ne adombrò e decise segretamente di far morire il favorito. Un giorno, uscito a cavallo, s'imbatté in una fornace di calce. Si avvicinò agli operai e diede ad essi l'ordine di gettare subito nel fuoco il paggio che si sarebbe presentato a chiedere loro se fosse già stato eseguito il comando del sovrano. L'indomani vi mandò il paggio della regina, ma costui, passando davanti ad una chiesa, sentì suonare la campanella e vi entrò per ascoltare la Messa.
Dopo un po' di tempo il re, che smaniava di sapere che fine avesse fatto il paggio, chiamò il calunniatore e lo mandò a chiedere ai fochisti della fornace se il comando del re era stato eseguito. Gli operai, credendo che quello fosse il paggio di cui il re aveva parlato loro, lo presero e lo buttarono vivo nel fuoco. Poco dopo si presentò pure il paggio votato alla morte. Appena seppe che l'ordine del re era stato eseguito, ritornò a darne notizia a chi lo aveva mandato. Il re, constatato con stupore che la sua macchinazione, per disposizione divina, aveva avuto un esito diverso da quello che si era proposto, cominciò da allora a rinsavire.
Dopo la morte del marito (1325), Elisabetta rinunciò al mondo, si tagliò i capelli, vestì l'abito del terz'ordine Francescano e andò pellegrina a San Giacomo de Compostela. In suffragio del re defunto, offrì al santuario la corona d'oro che aveva portato il giorno del matrimonio, con altri ricchissimi doni. Il vescovo della città le diede in cambio un bastone di pellegrino e una borsa che la santa volle portare con sé nella tomba. Appena rientrò a corte fece fondere le sue argenterie a favore delle chiese, divise i diademi e le altre insegne regali tra la sovrana Beatrice e le sue nipoti e, a Coimbra, fece terminare la costruzione del monastero di Santa Chiara. In esso intendeva terminare la vita, ma ne fu distolta da savi sacerdoti, per ragioni di stato e per non privare tanti poveretti dei suoi aiuti. Elisabetta si accontentò di portare sempre l'abito della penitenza e di fare costruire presso il monastero un appartamento che le consentisse, con il permesso della Santa Sede, di ritirarvisi sovente a pregare, a conversare e a pranzare con le religiose. Abitualmente ne teneva cinque con sé per la recita corale dell'ufficio e la vita in comune.
Nel pomeriggio Elisabetta dava udienza con una pazienza e una bontà illimitata, ai poveri, ai malati, ai peccatori che ricorrevano a lei. Per tutti aveva una parola di consolazione, un'abbondante elemosina. Nel 1333 gli abitanti di Coimbra furono ridotti, dalla carestia, a cibarsi di sorci. Elisabetta, senza prestare ascolto agli amministratori dei suoi beni che le raccomandavano la parsimonia, fece comperare per loro grandi quantità di cibarie e provvide persino che fossero seppelliti i morti, abbandonati nelle case per la grande desolazione. Quando era libera dalle opere di carità e nella notte, ella si ritirava in una stanzetta segreta. Lontana dagli sguardi indiscreti dava libero sfogo alle sue preghiere e alle sue contemplazioni. Altre volte andava a visitare i degenti nell'ospedale che aveva fatto costruire in onore di S. Elisabetta d'Ungheria e a curarli con le sue stesse mani.
L'ultimo anno di vita Elisabetta pellegrinò, una seconda volta, a San Giacomo de Compostela, con due donne. Volle fare a piedi il lungo viaggio nonostante i suoi 64 anni e mendicare di porta in porta il vitto quotidiano.
Al ritorno le fu annunziato che suo figlio, Alfonso re del Portogallo, e suo nipote Alfonso, re di Castiglia, si erano dichiarati guerra. Elisabetta si portò a Estremoz nella speranza di strappare parole di pace dalla bocca del figlio da portare al nipote in Castiglia, ma una violenta febbre non le lasciò nessuna speranza di vita. Si mise a letto, fece testamento alla presenza del figlio e della nuora, e ricevette il Viatico tra sospiri e lacrime, rivestita del suo abito di penitenza, inginocchiata, nonostante l'estrema debolezza, davanti all'altare eretto nel suo appartamento. Alla regina Bianca, che l'assisteva e che era stata la compagna delle sue visite ai poveri e ai malati, ella chiese che avvicinasse al suo letto una sedia per Maria SS. la quale le era apparsa radiosa, vestita di bianco, in compagnia di S. Chiara e di altre sante. Morì il 4-7-1336 dopo aver recitato il Credo e mormorato: Maria, mater gratiae.
Il corpo di Elisabetta fu trasportato a Coimbra e seppellito nella chiesa delle Clarisse dove si è conservato incorrotto. Urbano VIII la canonizzò il 24-6-1626.
Autore: Guido Pettinati
Voir aussi : http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j245sd_ElizabethPort_07_081.html