Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is a paradigmatic saint for the current Holy Year of Mercy.  Elizabeth was born into the Hungarian royal family around the year 1207 A.D.  She eventually married the Landgrave of Thuringia (part of modern day Germany).  Instead of being consumed by the events and politics of court life, she lived an austere lifestyle.  She dedicated her life to the corporal works of mercy.  In one of her hagiographies, with a bit of ethereal embellishment, the writer states:

Elizabeth visited the sick.  Her compassion for their sufferings ruled her heart so much that she often went looking for their lodgings and visited them solicitously, entering their poor abodes as if she were at home, not deterred by the strangeness of the locale or bothered by the distance she had to go.  She provided for their needs and spoke words of consolation to them, thus earning reward in five ways, namely, by honoring them with her visit, by the fatigues of the journey, by the warmth of her compassion, by her words of consolation, and by the generosity of her donations.[1]

What is striking of Elizabeth’s practice of the corporal works of mercy is her mobility.  Mercy for her was not only something to be practiced where she lived.  Mercy moved her out of her typical social world to encounter others she would not have normally seen.  To be agents of God’s mercy, we need to go out and not wait for people to arrive at our doorstep.  We need to meet people where they are.  Let us pray for Elizabeth’s intercession to ask God to remove any barrier preventing us from being mobile missionaries of mercy.

When have I experienced mercy?  How have I been merciful?  Where or to whom is God asking me to be an agent of His mercy?

[1] Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints (Volume 2), trans. William Granger Ryan (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1993), 307.

November 17th, 2016