Today we are feasting with… Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.
To celebrate this feast day, we are making Hungarian Braided Bread, a rich, yeasty white bread, plaited, and topped with poppy seeds.
How To Make Hungarian Braided Bread
Elizabeth of Hungary
Elizabeth was born in Hungary on July 7, in the year of our Lord, 1207. Her father was the King Andrew II of Hungary, and her mother was Queen Gertrude of Merania.
From a very early age, she learned the responsibilities that came with being royalty. At four years old, Elizabeth’s father arranged her marriage to a German nobleman. The nobleman was Ludwig IV of Thuringia, and the two would marry when Elizabeth was twenty years old. With the marriage plan in place, Elizabeth left home to receive an education at the court of the Landgrave of Thuringia.
While Elizabeth was away, Hungarian noblemen murdered her mother. Queen Gertrude had several German friends in her court and would often give away land to her friends. The noblemen were afraid of losing their power and land to Gertrude’s German friends. Thus, they conspired to murder Queen Gertrude on a hunting trip in the Pilis Mountains. Elizabeth’s brother would one day take revenge on the noblemen. He confiscated their land and donated it to the Cistercians. Rather than take revenge, Elizabeth sought peace through prayer and forgiveness.
A Life of Prayer and Service
In 1221 Elizabeth married Ludwig and the couple had three children. She continued to live a life of prayer, penance, and simplicity. Also, since she belonged to the royal court, she was able to use her position to advance her mission of charity.
Franciscan friars influenced Elizabeth’s lifestyle. They taught her the ideals of Saint Francis of Assisi, and she lived her life based on these ideals. In 1226, floods struck Thuringia and disease broke out across the land. Elizabeth built a hospital, gave bread to the poor, and even gave away her royal clothing to those afflicted by the tragedy.
The miracle of roses is one of the greatest miracles attributed to Elizabeth. People accused Elizabeth of stealing treasure from the castle and giving it away to the poor. During one of her secret trips to deliver bread, Elizabeth’s husband confronted her. He asked her to reveal the contents concealed beneath her cloak and when she did, only white and red roses fell out. Ludwig knew the roses were a sign of God’s protection and that Elizabeth should continue her care for the poor.
Another miracle involved a leper placed in Elizabeth’s care. She gave the leper her own bed for rest but did not tell her husband. Concerned with the situation, Elizabeth’s mother-in-law told Ludwig about the leper. Ludwig rushed to the room, removed the blankets, and saw the vision of Christ crucified laying on the bed.
Profession of Vows
Despite Elizabeth’s eccentric gift of charity, she and Ludwig loved each other very much. In 1227, Ludwig fell ill and died of a fever on his way to fight in another Crusade. Heartbroken by the news, Elizabeth cried out “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today.”
After the death of Ludwig, Elizabeth vowed to never remarry and chose a life of obedience to her spiritual director, Master Conrad of Marburg. Master Conrad’s treatment of Elizabeth was very harsh, but she continued to keep her vow. She devoted the rest of her life to her charitable works until she passed away on November 17th, 1231. She was only 24 years old.
Because of her generous charitable works, many people would often visit Elizabeth’s grave. Some of the visitors who had ailments miraculously healed after visiting her graveside. As a result, the Church began to examine the miracles from 1232 to 1235. The results of the investigation, her popularity with the people, and the testimony of her companions were enough to start the process of her canonization.
Pope Gregory IX canonized Saint Elizabeth of Hungary on May 27, 1235.
She is the patron saint of bakers, beggars, brides, charities, the death of children, the homeless, hospitals, Sisters of Mercy, and widows.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.
How To Make Hungarian Braided Bread
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