Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231)

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231)

Patron saint of widows, the homeless, and young brides

Feast day: November 17

Saint Elizabeth was born in 1207 as a princess of Hungary. She lived there until she was four and then was sent to Germany to live with the family of her betrothed, Louis, the Landgrave of Thuringia. At the age of fourteen, Elizabeth married Louis.

When Franciscan friars arrived in Germany, Elizabeth not only learned about the principles of Francis of Assisi, but she started to live them as well. Louis was not upset by his wife's charity, because he was so in love with her. When famine, floods, and plague wrought havoc on the people of Thuringia, Elizabeth distributed alms in all parts of their territory, even giving away state robes and ornaments to the poor, which angered her in-laws.

Elizabeth’s life changed drastically when Louis died en route to join the Sixth Crusade. After her husband’s death, Elizabeth left court and moved to Marburg, now in Germany. Tradition says that she was cast out of court by Henry, Louis’s brother.

She died at the age of 24 in Marburg and was canonized in 1235. A 13th-century shrine in St. Elizabeth's Church in Marburg holds her remains.

(Image Hugues Merle, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)