St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal
by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

St. 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 Constantia, 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 I 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 St. 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 St. 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 St. 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 St. Clare, and on her knees, at the foot of the Altar.


PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.

People of both sexes, and in all stations of life may derive great benefit from the life of the holy queen Elizabeth. I. Youth may learn to devote themselves, from early childhood, to prayer, the frequentation of churches, and to due reverence in the sacred edifices. II. Single persons may learn to live retired and chaste and to preserve their virtue by prayer, fasting and frequent partaking of the Blessed Sacrament. III. 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. IV. 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. V. Those whom God has placed in a higher station, may imitate her example, in humility, in love towards their neighbors, aid 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 to 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 St. 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 St. 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!"





Hymn: St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal

Pure, meek, with soul serene,
Sweeter to her it was to serve unseen
Her God, than reign a queen.

Now far above our sight,
Enthroned upon the azure star-paved height
She reigns in realms of light;

So long as time shall flow,
Teaching to all who sit on thrones below,
The good that power can do.
Praise to the Father be;
Praise to the Son; praise, Holy Ghost, to Thee;
Through all eternity. Amen.

V. Pray for us, blessed Elizabeth.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.







Prayer to St. Elizabeth of Portugal
as your Patron Saint

Saint Elizabeth, whom I have chosen as my special patron, pray for me that I, too, may one day glorify the Blessed Trinity in heaven. Obtain for me your lively faith, that I may consider all persons, things, and events in the light of almighty God. Pray, that I may be generous in making sacrifices of temporal things to promote my eternal interests, as you so wisely did.

Set me on fire with a love for Jesus, that I may thirst for His sacraments and burn with zeal for the spread of His kingdom. By your powerful intercession, help me in the performance of my duties to God, myself and all the world.

Win for me the virtue of purity and a great confidence in the Blessed Virgin. Protect me this day, and every day of my life. Keep me from mortal sin. Obtain for me the grace of a happy death. Amen






Litany for a Christian Mother

Lord, have mercy on me!
Christ, have mercy on me!
Lord, have mercy on me!
Christ, have mercy on me!
Christ, graciously hear me!

God, the Father of heaven,
have mercy on me! *

Thou great Father, from whom all parental relation proceedeth, *

O God, thou heavenly father of my children, *

Thou who lovest my children more than I, their mother, can love them. *

Thou who desirest that they may be forever happy with Thee, *

Thou who hast delivered up Thy only Son for them also, *

Thou who hast sent Thy angels to guard them, *

Thou who hast confided them to my love and care, *

Thou who requirest of me to keep and educate them for Thee, *

Thou who art willing to assist and help me in this my work. *

Thou who wilt call me one day to give a strict account of the manner in which I have fulfilled my duties to my children, *

Thou who wilt reward in an unspeakable manner the faithful fulfilment of a mother's duties, *

God the Son, Redeemer of the world, *

Thou who hast become man for us, *

O Jesus, who hast sanctified the tender age of childhood by having become a child Thyself, *

O Jesus, Thou most lovely of children, *

O Jesus, Thou most loving and faithful Son of Thy holy Mother and fosterfather, *

O Jesus, Thou friend of children, *

Thou who hast pronounced condemnation upon all those who shall be guilty of scandal to their children, *

Thou who regardest as done to Thyself whatsoever is done to children. *

Thou who dost love my children, and hast offered Thyself up for them, *

Thou who hast also for their sake enriched Thy holy Church with graces, *

Thou who by the sacrament of penance hast consecrated and enabled me, with Thy grace, to fulfil the duties of a mother, *

Thou who hast prepared in Thy holy Church so many graces for this vocation, *

God the Holy Ghost, *

Thou who, through the workings of Thy grace in holy baptism, hast changed my children into children of God, *

Thou by whose grace alone I can successfully fulfil my duties toward my children, *

Thou by whose grace my children can become holy and remain so, *

Thou Spirit of Wisdom and understanding, *

Thou Spirit of Counsel and fortitude, *

Thou Spirit of Piety and of the fear of God, *

Thou Spirit of Knowledge and all graces, *

Thou who hast often worked in children wonderful changes through the power of Thy grace. *

Holy Trinity one God, *

Holy Mary,
pray for us. **

Holy mother of God, **

Mother of Christ, **

Mother most pure, **

Mother most chaste, **

Mother most amiable, **

Mother most admirable, **

Thou who didst offer up Thy divine Son in the Temple, **

Thou who didst flee with Him into Egypt, **

Thou who didst seek Him for three days with sorrow, **

Thou who didst recommend the newly married people of Cana to Him, **

Thou who didst see Him suffer and die on the Cross, **

Thou who didst hold Him in Thy arms after He had died, **

Thou who didst offer Him up willingly to the Father, **

Thou who because of His Resurrection and Ascension into heaven wast filled with holy joy, **

Thou who art now glorified with Him in heaven, **

St. Joseph, **

Thou to whom God did confide what He esteemed most precious, His divine Son, **

Thou who didst most carefully protect and cherish Thy divine foster-son, **

Thou who didst have the blessing and consolation of working with Him so many years, **

Thou who didst breathe out Thy last breath in His arms, **

Ye holy guardian angels and friends of my children, who behold always the face of the heavenly Father, **

Ye who are sent by God for the protection of my children, **

Ye who, full of love for my children, are always intent upon guarding and defending them, **

O blessed Anna, happy mother of the most blessed Virgin, **

Thou who by a life of holy endurance, patience, and prayer didst obtain the honor of such a motherhood, **

Thou whom God didst bless with a child of all that ever were born the richest in grace. **

Thou who didst instruct Thy holy daughter in the practice of all kinds of virtues and perfection, **

Thou who didst go before her with the example of a most holy life, **

Thou Patroness of Christian wives and mothers, **

St. Joachim, Thou pious Consort of St. Anne, **

O blessed Anne, Thou favored mother of Samuel, **

Thou who didst obtain this child of benediction by Thy persevering prayer, **

Thou who didst consecrate it to the service of the Tabernacle, **

Holy mother of the Maccabees, thou martyr of the Old Testament, **

Thou heroine and model of true motherly love, **

Thou who didst deliver up Thy seven sons to death with unshaken fortitude for the law of the Lord, **

St. Joachim, Thou father of the blessed Virgin Mary, **

Ye holy mothers of the Apostles, who gave up your sons to our divine Saviour, and consecrated them to His service, **

St. Felicitas, thou who, like the mother of the Maccabees, didst deliver up Thy seven sons for Jesus unto death and martyrdom. **

All ye holy mothers who have preferred to see your children die in the pains of martyrdom rather than to see them deny their faith, **

St. Paula, Thou model of the love of a mother, **

St. Monica, Thou who by Thy persevering prayers and entreaties didst win Thy son Augustine for God, **

St. Elizabeth, Thou who didst educate Thy child with so great care, **

All ye holy and chosen mothers, **

Ye who through prayers and pious works have obtained the favor of motherhood, **

Ye who have taken so great pains to educate, by word and example, the children whom the Lord confided to you, to true holiness of life, **

Ye who, through the faithful fulfilment of your duties as mothers, have also arrived yourselves at sanctity, and at the possession of the highest happiness in heaven, **

All ye holy Angels, **

All ye holy Patriarchs and Prophets, **

All ye holy Apostles and Martyrs, **

All ye holy Bishops, Priests and Confessors, **

All ye holy Virgins and Widows, **

All ye holy and innocent children, **

Be merciful to me, spare me, O Lord!

Be merciful to me, hear me, O Lord!


From all evil,
deliver me, O Lord! ***

From indifference to my vocation, ***

From the neglect of my duties as a mother, ***

From the disregard of the salvation of my children, ***

From imprudent love and indulgence, ***

From anger, and from a passionate manner of speaking and acting, ***

From all kinds of bad example, ***

From the spirit of uncleanness, ***


Through the merits of Thy life, suffering, and death,
I beseech Thee to hear me! ****

Through Thy love for children, ****

Through the great care which Thou didst manifest for children, ****

Through the great reward which Thou hast promised to those who for Thy sake receive children under their care. ****

Through the mercies of Thy divine Heart, ****

Through the intercession of Thy holy Mother, ****

Through the intercession of all mothers now happy in heaven, ****

I, a sinner, beseech Thee to hear me! ****

That Thou wouldst grant me the grace to understand fully the greatness and sublimity of my vocation, ****

That Thou wouldst assist me to arrive at a true knowledge of the importance of my duties towards my children, ****

That Thou wouldst give me, in the difficult work of education, understanding, judgment, and wisdom, ****

That Thou wouldst fill my heart with true love for my children, ****

That Thou wouldst give me fervor in prayer for my children, ****

That Thou wouldst bless my instructions and admonitions, ****

That Thou wouldst give me the grace to go before my children in all things, and always with the light of good example, ****

That Thou wouldst graciously take my children under Thy Almighty protection, ****

That Thou wouldst guard them against all levity, and against the misfortune of mortal sin, ****

That Thou wouldst give them the grace of becoming well founded in the fear of God and piety, and of persevering therein, ****

That Thou wouldst increase in them Thy holy love, ****

That Thou wouldst preserve in them the treasure of unblemished innocence, ****

That Thou wouldst repel all the wicked attacks of hell, ****

That Thou wouldst guard them against all the bad influences of the world, ****

That Thou wouldst give Thy blessing to the endeavors of priests and teachers in their behalf, ****

That Thou wouldst preserve them in Thy grace, ****

That Thou wouldst lead them to eternal life, ****


Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
spare me, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
graciously hear me, O Lord.

Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
have mercy on me, O Lord.

Christ hear me! Christ graciously hear me!

Lord have mercy on me!
Christ have mercy on me!
Lord have mercy on me!

Our Father. Hail Mary.

Prayer

O God, whose mercy is without measure, and whose goodness is without limit, I render thanks to Thee for the graces and favors which Thou hast so freely bestowed upon me and upon my children; and since Thou dost listen willingly to those who address Thee, I pray most earnestly that Thou wilt never abandon me and my children, but that Thou wouldst lead us to an eternal reward in heaven. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.







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