Friday, July 22, 2011


Born July 7, 1207(1207-07-07)Pressburg, Kingdom of Hungary (modern-day Bratislava,
Died November 17, 1231(1231-11-17) (aged 24)Marburg, Landgraviate of Thuringia, Holy Roman
Empire (modern-day Hesse, Germany)
Canonized May 28, 1235, Perugia, Italy by Pope Gregory IX

Feast:- November 17

Also called St. Elizabeth of Thuringia, born in Hungary, Elisabeth of Hungary (German:
Heilige Elisabeth von Thüringen, Hungarian: Árpád-házi Szent Erzsébet, July 7, 1207 –
November 17, 1231probably at Pressburg, 1207; died at Marburg, Hesse, 17 November (not 19
November), 1231.
She was a daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary (1205-35) and his wife Gertrude, a member
of the family of the Counts of Andechs-Meran; Elizabeth's brother succeeded his father on
the throne of Hungary as Bela IV; the sister of her mother, Gertrude, was St. Hedwig, wife
of Duke Heinrich I, the Bearded, of Silesia, while another saint, St. Elizabeth (Isabel) of
Portugal (d. 1336), the wife of the tyrannical King Diniz of that country, was her
In 1211 a formal embassy was sent by Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia to Hungary to
arrange, as was customary in that age, a marriage between his eldest son Hermann and
Elizabeth, who was then four years old. This plan of a marriage was the result of political
considerations and was intended to be the ratification of a great alliance which in the
political schemes of the time it was sought to form against the German Emperor Otto IV, a
member of the house of Guelph, who had quarrelled with the Church. Not long after this the
little girl was taken to the Thuringian court to be brought up with her future husband and,
in the course of time, to be betrothed to him.
The court of Thuringia was at this period famous for its magnificence. Its centre was the
stately castle of the Wartburg, splendidly placed on a hill in the Thuringian Forest near
Eisenach, where the Landgrave Hermann lived surrounded by poets and minnesingers, to whom
he was a generous patron. Notwithstanding the turbulence and purely secular life of the
court and the pomp of her surroundings, the little girl grew up a very religious child with
an evident inclination to prayer and pious observances and small acts of
self-mortification. These religious impulses were undoubtedly strengthened by the sorrowful
experiences of her life.
In 1213 Elizabeth's mother, Gertrude, was murdered by Hungarian nobles, probably out of
hatred of the Germans. On 31 December, 1216, the oldest son of the landgrave, Hermann, who
Elizabeth was to marry, died; after this she was betrothed to Ludwig, the second son. It
was probably in these years that Elizabeth had to suffer the hostility of the more
frivolous members of the Thuringian court, to whom the contemplative and pious child was a
constant rebuke. Ludwig, however, must have soon come to her protection against any
ill-treatment. The legend that arose later is incorrect in making Elizabeth's
mother-in-law, the Landgravine Sophia, a member of the reigning family of Bavaria, the
leader of this court party. On the contrary, Sophia was a very religious and charitable
woman and a kindly mother to the little Elizabeth.
The political plans of the old Landgrave Hermann involved him in great difficulties and
reverses; he was excommunicated, lost his mind towards the end of his life, and died, 25
April, 1217, unreconciled with the Church. He was succeeded by his son Ludwig IV, who, in
1221, was also made regent of Meissen and the East Mark. The same year (1221) Ludwig and
Elizabeth were married, the groom being twenty-one years old and the bride fourteen. The
marriage was in every regard a happy and exemplary one, and the couple were devotedly
attached to each other. Ludwig proved himself worthy of his wife. He gave his protection to
her acts of charity, penance, and her vigils, and often held Elizabeth's hands as she knelt
praying at night beside his bed. He was also a capable ruler and brave soldier. The Germans
call him St. Ludwig, an appellation given to him as one of the best men of his age and the
pious husband of St. Elizabeth.
They had three children: Hermann II (1222-41), who died young; Sophia (1224-84), who
married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse, as in
the war of the Thuringian succession she won Hesse for her son Heinrich I, called the
Child; Gertrude (1227-97), Elizabeth's third child, was born several weeks after the death
of her father; in after-life she became abbess of the convent of Altenberg near Wetzlar.
Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and Ludwig made a journey to Hungary; Ludwig was
often after this employed by the Emperor Frederick II, to whom he was much attached, in the
affairs of the empire. In the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and the pest wrought
havoc in Thuringia, Ludwig was in Italy attending the Diet at Cremona on behalf of the
emperor and the empire. Under these circumstances Elizabeth assumed control of affairs,
distributed alms in all parts of the territory of her husband, giving even state robes and
ornaments to the poor. In order to care personally for the unfortunate she built below the
Wartburg a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to their
wants; at the same time she aided nine hundred poor daily. It is this period of her life
that has preserved Elizabeth's fame to posterity as the gentle and charitable chételaine of
the Wartburg. Ludwig on his return confirmed all she had done. The next year (1227) he
started with the Emperor Frederick II on a crusade to Palestine but died, 11 September of
the same year at Otranto, from the pest. The news did not reach Elizabeth until October,
just after she had given birth to her third child. On hearing the tidings Elizabeth, who
was only twenty years old, cried out: "The world with all its joys is now dead to me."
The fact that in 1221 the followers of St. Francis of Assisi (d. 1226) made their first
permanent settlement in Germany was one of great importance in the later career of
Elizabeth. Brother Rodeger, one of the first Germans whom the provincial for Germany,
Caesarius of Speier, received into the order, was for a time the spiritual instructor of
Elizabeth at the Wartburg; in his teachings he unfolded to her the ideals of St. Francis,
and these strongly appealed to her. With the aid of Elizabeth the Franciscans in 1225
founded a monastery in Eisenach; Brother Rodeger, as his fellow-companion in the order,
Jordanus, reports, instructed Elizabeth, to observe, according to her state of life,
chastity, humility, patience, the exercise of prayer, and charity. Her position prevented
the attainment of the other ideal of St. Francis, voluntary and complete poverty. Various
remarks of Elizabeth to her female attendants make it clear how ardently she desired the
life of poverty.
After a while the post Brother Rodeger had filled was assumed by Master Conrad of Marburg,
who belonged to no order, but was a very ascetic and, it must be acknowledged, a somewhat
rough and very severe man. He was well known as a preacher of the crusade and also as an
inquisitor or judge in cases of heresy. On account of the latter activity he has been more
severely judged than is just; at the present day, however, the estimate of him is a fairer
one. Pope Gregory IX, who wrote at times to Elizabeth, recommended her himself to the
God-fearing preacher. Conrad treated Elizabeth with inexorable severity, even using
corporal means of correction; nevertheless, he brought her with a firm hand by the road of
self-mortification to sanctity, and after her death was very active in her canonization.
Although he forbade her to follow St. Francis in complete poverty as a beggar, yet, on the
other hand, by the command to keep her dower she was enabled to perform works of charity
and tenderness.
Up to 1888 it was believed, on account of the testimony of one of Elizabeth's servants in
the process of canonization, that Elizabeth was driven from the Wartburg in the winter of
1227 by her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, who acted as regent for her son, then only five
years old. About 1888 various investigators (Börner, Mielke, Wenck, E. Michael, etc.)
asserted that Elizabeth left the Wartburg voluntarily, the only compulsion being a moral
one. She was not able at the castle to follow Conrad's command to eat only food obtained in
a way that was certainly right and proper. Lately, however, Huyskens (1907) tried to prove
that Elizabeth was driven from the castle at Marburg in Hesse, which was hers by dower
right. Consequently, the Te Deum that she directed the Franciscans to sing on the night of
her expulsion would have been sung in the Franciscan monastery at Marburg. Accompanied by
two female attendants, Elizabeth left the castle that stands on a height commanding
Marburg. The next day her children were brought to her, but they were soon taken elsewhere
to be cared for.
Elizabeth's aunt, Matilda, Abbess of the Benedictine nunnery of Kitzingen near Würzburg,
took charge of the unfortunate landgravine and sent her to her uncle Eckbert, Bishop of
Bamberg. The bishop, however, was intent on arranging another marriage for her, although
during the lifetime of her husband Elizabeth had made a vow of continence in case of his
death; the same vow had also been taken by her attendants.
While Elizabeth was maintaining her position against her uncle the remains of her husband
were brought to Bamberg by his faithful followers who had carried them from Italy. Weeping
bitterly, she buried the body in the family vault of the landgraves of Thuringia in the
monastery of Reinhardsbrunn. With the aid of Conrad she now received the value of her dower
in money, namely two thousand marks; of this sum she divided five hundred marks in one day
among the poor. On Good Friday, 1228, in the Franciscan house at Eisenach Elizabeth
formally renounced the world; then going to Master Conrad at Marburg, she and her maids
received from him the dress of the Third Order of St. Francis, thus being among the first
tertiaries of Germany. In the summer of 1228 she built the Franciscan hospital at Marburg
and on its completion devoted herself entirely to the care of the sick, especially to those
afflicted with the most loathsome diseases. Conrad of Marburg still imposed many
self-mortifications and spiritual renunciations, while at the same time he even took from
Elizabeth her devoted domestics. Constant in her devotion to God, Elizabeth's strength was
consumed by her charitable labours, and she passed away at the age of twenty-four, a time
when life to most human beings is just opening.
Very soon after the death of Elizabeth miracles began to be worked at her grave in the
church of the hospital, especially miracles of healing. Master Conrad showed great zeal in
advancing the process of canonization. By papal command three examinations were held of
those who had been healed: namely, in August, 1232, January, 1233, and January, 1235.
Before the process reached its end, however, Conrad was murdered, 30 July, 1233. But the
Teutonic Knights in 1233 founded a house at Marburg, and in November, 1234, Conrad,
Landgrave of Thuringia, the brother-in-law of Elizabeth, entered the order. At Pentecost
(28 May) of the year 1235, the solemn ceremony of canonization of the "greatest woman of
the German Middle Ages" was celebrated by Gregory IX at Perugia, Landgrave Conrad being
present. In August of the same year (1235) the corner-stone of the beautiful Gothic church
of St. Elizabeth was laid at Marburg; on 1 May, 1236, Emperor Frederick II attended the
taking-up of the body of the saint; in 1249 the remains were placed in the choir of the
church of St. Elizabeth, which was not consecrated until 1283.
Pilgrimages to the grave soon increased to such importance that at times they could be
compared to those to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela. In 1539 Philip the Magnanimous,
Landgrave of Hesse, who had become a Protestant, put an end to the pilgrimages by
unjustifiable interference with the church that belonged to the Teutonic Order and by
forcibly removing the relics and all that was sacred to Elizabeth. Nevertheless, the entire
German people still honour the "dear St. Elizabeth" as she is called; in 1907 a new impulse
was given to her veneration in Germany and Austria by the celebration of the seven
hundredth anniversary of her birth.
St. Elizabeth is generally represented as a princess graciously giving alms to the wretched
poor or as holding roses in her lap; in the latter case she is portrayed either alone or as
surprised by her husband, who, according to a legend, which is, however, related of other
saints as well, met her unexpectedly as she went secretly on an errand of mercy, and, so
the story runs, the bread she was trying to conceal was suddenly turned into roses.


Born 1271 Aljafería Palace, Zaragoza, Kingdom of Aragon
Died 4 July 1336 Estremoz Castle in Estremoz, Alentejo, Kingdom of Portugal
Canonized 25 May 1625, Rome by Pope Urban VIII
Feast 4 July

Elizabeth was a descendant of one of the most powerful families in Europe: daughter of King Peter III of Aragon and Queen Constance, and maternal granddaughter of Manfred of Hohenstauffen (son of German Emperor Frederick II), conqueror of Sicily.

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 is 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 her maidenhood, 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.
Before Elizabeth entered her teen years, several European monarchs sought her hand. King Edward IV of England solicited her for his son, the crown prince, as did the king of Sicily, the king of France, and others. As was the custom, Elizabeth's parents weighed the political advantages of each proposed match. The greatest benefit, they concluded, would ensue from a matrimonial alliance with King Dinis of Portugal. Elizabeth became his wife, by proxy. She was around 12 years of age, while King Dinis was 20.
One cannot help but wonder how much the young princess understood of the document she signed, to be delivered to a man she had never met. It read, "I, Elizabeth, daughter of the Most Illustrious Don Pedro, by the grace of God king of Aragon, hereby bestow my body as the legitimate wife of Dom Dinis, king of Portugal and of the Algarve, in his absence as if he were present...."
A year and a half later, in June 1282, Elizabeth arrived in Portugal to start her new life as wife and queen
Elizabeth's Christian faith informed every aspect of her existence. She surrounded herself with a number of chaplains, and every day she recited, and sang, the Liturgy of the Hours with them. And if one of them ever misread the Latin in her presence, Elizabeth quickly corrected him, for she herself knew Latin as thoroughly as she knew the vernacular.
One can only speculate as to how much time a queen—this particular queen, at any rate—could devote to reading or studying. But it was Elizabeth who, in 1320, obtained of the bishop of Coimbra a formal proclamation establishing the celebration of the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Dec. 8th from Coimbra, the solemn observance was extended to the whole country. Considering the prolonged and bewildering medieval controversy on the subject of the Immaculate Conception, and keeping in mind that it was during Elizabeth's lifetime that the Franciscan "Subtle Doctor" Duns Scotus (1266-1308) answered the theological difficulties of this doctrine, we may conclude that Queen Elizabeth was well-informed as to major happenings in academic circles abroad. (Pope John Paul II beatified Duns Scotus on March 20th, 1993.)
While Elizabeth's mastery of languages, and singing, may be explained by the careful education she received as a young child, more difficult to explain is her remarkable understanding of engineering and architecture. A number of buildings were erected under her direct supervision—a convent to house the Poor Clare nuns, a house for herself next to the convent, a hospice for the aged poor, a hospital, an orphanage for foundlings and other needy newborns, and churches that, although dilapidated in some cases, are still standing. 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, and have concluded that she developed her own style
Elizabeth paid regular visits to the construction sites, to clarify or correct the difficult points of her drawings. The men listened to her in rapt attention, amazed at the extent of her knowledge, that 14thcentury book says. From Elizabeth's particular involvement in the building trade, a charming legend was born.
The queen had a dream one night in which God asked her to build a church dedicated to the Holy Spirit. The next morning, she had one of her chaplains celebrate Mass, and while attending the Holy Sacrifice she received further clarification.
She ordered a construction crew to be assembled and brought to her.
She told them of the plan, and specified the site for the church. The workmen went to the location, and could not believe their eyes: The foundation was already poured, and the sketches for the church were waiting for them. The men went to work and, as usual, the queen paid regular visits.
One day, while Elizabeth was supervising the work, a girl walked up to her to offer an armful of flowers. The queen took them and distributed them, one by one, to each workman:
"Let us see if today you will work hard and well for this pay," she quipped.
Each worker graciously accepted his flower, and reverently put it in his satchel. When the day's work was done, each man found not a flower in his satchel, but a gold coin.
Elizabeth ran out of cash before the church was completed, and was troubled. Unexpectedly, she received a visit from her husband, who told her to proceed with all due speed because he would make available from his own resources whatever she might need.
Elizabeth's biographers cannot verify the story of the gold coins, nor any other mysterious detail of this legend. It seems certain, however, that a Church of the Holy Spirit was completed, and inaugurated with great solemnity, during the reign of Dinis and Elizabeth. The royal couple created a Confraternity of the Holy Spirit at the time.
Despite Dinis' infidelity, Elizabeth knew the inner, God-fearing man. Indeed, he was the first Portuguese king to introduce the custom of general prayer, at canonic hours, in his residence, and it was on his initiative that a permanent chapel was installed in the palace where Mass could be celebrated regularly.

Elizabeth remained Dinis' tender and loyal wife, and she obediently acceded to his will, even when he asked of her the utmost that any man could request of his wife: that she take into her care, and tutor, his illegitimate children. He admired her intellect, and rightly judged that no one better could be found to teach his children. He also judged rightly that Elizabeth's superior virtues would prevent her from turning her back on a call to do the heroic. Elizabeth saw God in the other, and the other encompassed her husband's illegitimate children.
But a far heavier cross awaited Elizabeth. As the children, legitimate and illegitimate, grew into adulthood, the peace of the realm disintegrated. The perpetrator was her own beloved son, Afonso, the heir. He was morbidly jealous of one of his half-brothers whom, he perceived, the father doted on, and chafed at having to wait for the throne. So Afonso led a revolt against his own father.
Civil war became imminent, several times, as Afonso allied himself with certain elements of the Spanish kingdom of Castile, who were only too willing to help him overthrow his father. The threat was real, and it fell to Elizabeth to mediate peace between the two men closest to her heart, husband and son, each of whom led an army.
Astoundingly, the first time that she intervened to help her son escape the consequences of his rebellion, Dinis exiled her to the fortified city' of Alenquer, forbidding her to leave the city walls. It must be said, in fairness to King Dinis, that he had been misinformed by evil tongues and had been led to believe that Elizabeth herself had counseled Afonso to rebel. Political intrigue has always been one of the hazards of court life.
Although innocent, Elizabeth obediently accepted the confinement. But upon receiving offers of assistance from a number of noblemen, who professed outrage at the injustice she had suffered and offered to rescue her, she answered them as their queen: "My primary obligation, and the obligation of all the vassals, is to obey the commands of the king, our lord."
Unjust sequestration is a well-known feature of the lives of most great saints, and Elizabeth was no exception. She stayed in exile until news came that the hostilities between her husband and son had heated anew. Afonso had secured additional military help from Castile, and his father had responded by greatly reinforcing his own army. The whole country—as well as her family—was in peril, so Elizabeth did abandon then her place of exile and rode for days, to mediate peace between the two men bent on destruction.
It was a scene that, with a number of variants, was repeated over and over: agreements made, agreements broken, armies on the move, and an exhausted, heartbroken Elizabeth riding out to valiantly face the warring parties, imploring, negotiating. Her biographers have dubbed her the "Angel of Peace." When he was on his deathbed, King Dinis called Afonso to his side, and entrusted Elizabeth to his care:
"Look after your mother and my lady, the queen, for she remains alone. Stand by her, as is your duty.... Think that having given you life, and for the many tears you have cost her, she is twice your mother."
In his peculiar way, Dinis held his queen in the highest esteem. He named her executor of his last will and testament, in which he made provision for the payment of all his debts, "having in mind God's Judgment," and for the disposition of castles, towns, and endowments to churches. But the king's highest praise of his wife is found, perhaps, in one of his poems:
Seeing as God made you without peer
In goodness of heart and goodness of speech,
Nor is your equal anywhere to be found,
My love, my lady, I hereby tell you:
Had God desired to ordain it so,
ou would have made a great king.
Dinis, one of Portugal's best-loved monarchs, died in February, 1325 at the age of 63, but not without taking leave also of his bastard children. The queen, who nursed him herself and stayed by his bedside day and night, led them to their dying father for his last blessing. Upon Dinis' death, Elizabeth removed her court dress and thereafter refused to wear anything but the habit of the Franciscan Tertiary order. She took up residence next to the convent of the Poor Clares, which she had founded and subsidized. It was then that the widowed queen founded a hospital near the convent, and named it after St. Elizabeth of Hungary. On a daily basis, Elizabeth worked in caring for the sick, often choosing for herself the most distasteful tasks.
Queen Elizabeth outlived her husband by 12 years. Mourning his death intensely, she said, "I have always beseeched our Lord to kindly spare me the bitterness of surviving the king, my lord. I have wished him a long life, for the good and well-being of the people."
Elizabeth always looked beyond herself, for she loved her subjects dearly. And she knew that they had also greatly loved her husband, who had taken radical measures to improve their lot. He had transformed agriculture, worked at increasing literacy, and, like Elizabeth, was moved by a deep need to see that justice prevailed in his kingdom. A striking feature of written accounts of Dinis' and Elizabeth's reign, which even the most casual reader of medieval histories cannot fail to notice, is the total absence of that "off with their heads" syndrome of medieval monarchic power, so prevalent elsewhere. When Dinis issued in 1309 a charter of privileges to the university he had founded, he began with a statement of intent: He officially established his university, he wrote, in order that his kingdom should be not only adorned with arms, but also armed with just and fair laws.
Elizabeth was of one mind with her husband, in matters of justice for her subjects. Recent researches have turned up five official documents issued by the Papal See at Avignon, attending to Elizabeth's written requests for the appointments of persons with law credentials to important posts. Scholars wonder how many other such documents lie still buried in archives.
Nor did she abide by the belief that rank has privileges and excuses injustices. Still preserved is an interesting letter that Elizabeth wrote to her brother, the king of Aragon, demanding in no uncertain terms that he pay a large debt in full. The amount was owed to a certain woman who, understandably, shrank at the prospect of seeking satisfaction from a king. "Know ye, my brother," starts Elizabeth, bypassing the niceties of usual greetings and proceeding directly to inform him, in harsh language, that the letter-bearer will not leave Aragon without the full amount in cash, and placing a time limit on her demand.
St. Elizabeth brooked no injustice, provided that reparation was within her means. "God made me queen so that I may serve others," was the way she used to cut short any attempts to laud her generosity.
Some of Elizabeth's acts of charity are so sublime that one almost shies away from mentioning them, for fear of trespassing on the sacred. The following case is related in the above-mentioned 14th-century book, where it is stated that it was attested to under oath, before the bishop of Lisbon.
It was Good Friday and Queen Elizabeth, as was her custom on that day, had a number of lepers brought to her in private, through a secluded door. She used to do this because the law forbade them to approach her residence, for fear of contagion. But Elizabeth saw God in the lepers, too.
After serving them a meal, the queen washed them with her own hands, bandaged their wounds, and replaced their rags with clean clothes. Then, having filled their purses, she dismissed them. But one of those unfortunates was in such a state of deterioration that, unable to keep pace with the group, he became disoriented and ended up at the main entrance. The doorkeeper, who knew nothing of his queen's secret works of mercy, yelled at the sick man and hit him on the head with a stick.
One of the queen's ladies-in-waiting was watching from a window and reported the incident to Elizabeth, informing her that the wounded man was bleeding profusely. Elizabeth immediately took measures to have the leper removed to a secluded room, where she managed to attend to him. 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 rumor spread that the queen performed miracles.
Doctors have commented on this episode. If St. Elizabeth's touch was not miraculous, her knowledge of medicine certainly appears to have been. She lived in an age when healing practices consisted, essentially, in astrological prognostications. And yet, now that we know about the protein and fibrinogenic components in egg-white, it can be said that, in the absence of all other aids, it is the most effective remedy for a bleeding wound.
Queen Elizabeth died on July 4th, 1336. She was 65 years of age, perhaps somewhat older, and had incorporated into her passage through this earth prayers, sacrifices, interventions for peace among monarchs, acts of worship, and works of mercy too numerous to mention in this brief piece. Almost three centuries after her death, His Holiness Pope Urban VIII inexplicably broke his reported vow that there would be no canonizations during his Pontificate: He canonized St. Elizabeth of Portugal on Holy Trinity Sunday, May 25th, 1625.

 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.
We ought not to forget her, and God has ensured this in the land she blessed, where her body remains incorrupt. Reposing in the Church of St. Clare at Coimbra, her elaborate coffin has been opened several times through the centuries as recently as 1912. The teams of examiners, invariably composed of doctors and Church officials, consistently reported that St. Elizabeth remains intact, as beautiful and serene as if she merely slept.



St. Cecilia
Born 2nd century A.D.Rome

Died 177 Sicily
Feast November 22
patron saint of musicians

Virgin and martyr, patroness of church music, died at Rome.
Saint Cecilia (Latin: Sancta Caecilia) is the patron saint of musicians and Church music
because as she was dying she sang to God. It is also written that as the musicians played
at her wedding she "sang in her heart to the Lord".
She is one of seven women, excluding the Blessed Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon
of the Mass. It was long supposed that she was a noble lady of Rome who, with her husband
Valerian, his brother Tiburtius, and a Roman soldier Maximus, suffered martyrdom, c. 230,
under the Emperor Alexander Severus.
The research of Giovanni Battista de Rossi, however, appears to confirm the statement of
Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 600), that she perished in Sicily under
Emperor Marcus Aurelius between 176 and 180. A church in her honor exists in Rome from
about the 5th century, was rebuilt with much splendor by Pope Paschal I around the year
820, and again by Cardinal Paolo Emilio Sfondrati in 1599. It is situated in Trastevere,
near the Ripa Grande quay, where in earlier days the ghetto was located, and is the titulus
of a Cardinal Priest, currently Carlo Maria Martini.
The martyrdom of Cecilia is said to have followed that of her husband and his brother by
the prefect Turcius Almachius.The officers of the prefect then sought to have Cecilia
killed as well. She arranged to have her home preserved as a church before she was
arrested. At that time, the officials attempted to kill her by smothering her by steam.
However, the attempt failed, and she was to have her head chopped off. But they were
unsuccessful three times, and she would not die until she received the sacrament of Holy
Cecilia survived another three days before succumbing. In the last three days of her life,
she opened her eyes, gazed at her family and friends who crowded around her cell, closed
them, and never opened them again. The people by her cell knew immediately that she was to
become a saint in heaven. When her incorruptible body was found long after her death, it
was found that on one hand she had three fingers outstretched and on the other hand just
one finger, denoting her belief in the trinity.

This saint, so often glorified in the fine arts and in poetry, is one of the most venerated
martyrs of Christian antiquity. The oldest historical account of St. Cecilia is found in
the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum"; from this it is evident that her feast was celebrated in
the Roman Church in the fourth century. Her name occurs under different dates in the
above-mentioned martyrology; its mention under 11 August, the feast of the martyr
Tiburtius, is evidently a later and erroneous addition, due to the fact that this
Tiburtius, who was buried on the Via Labicana, was wrongly identified with Tiburtius, the
brother-in-law of St. Cecilia, mentioned in the Acts of her martyrdom. Perhaps also there
was another Roman martyr of the name of Cecilia buried on the Via Labicana. Under the date
of 16 September Cecilia is mentioned alone, with the topographical note: "Appiâ viâ in
eâdem urbe Româ natale et passio sanctæ Ceciliæ virginis (the text is to be thus
corrected). This is evidently the day of the burial of the holy martyr in the Catacomb of
Callistus. The feast of the saint mentioned under 22 November, on which day it is still
celebrated, was kept in the church in the Trastevere quarter at Rome, dedicated to her. Its
origin, therefore, is to be traced most probably to this church. The early medieval guides
(Itineraria) to the burial-places of Roman martyrs point out her grave on the Via Appia,
next to the crypt of the Roman bishops of the third century (De Rossi, Roma sotterranea, I,
180-181). De Rossi located the burial-place of Cecilia in the Catacomb of Callistus in a
crypt immediately adjoining the crypt or chapel of the popes; an empty niche in one of the
walls contained, probably, at one time the sarcophagus with the bones of the saint. Among
the frescoes of a later time with which the wall of the sepulchre are adorned, the figure
of a richly-dressed woman appears twice and Pope Urban, who was brought personal into close
relation with the saint by the Acts of her martyrdom, is depicted once. The ancient titular
church of Rome, mentioned above was built as early as the fourth century and is still
preserved in the Trastevere. This church was certainly dedicated in the fifth century to
the saint buried on the Via Appia; it is mentioned in the signatures of the Roman Council
of 499 as "titulus sanctae Caeciliae" (Mansi, Coll, Conc. VIII, 236). Like some other
ancient Christian churches of Rome, which are the gifts of the saints whose names they
bear, it may be inferred that the Roman Church owes this temple to the generosity of the
holy martyr herself; in support of this view it is to be noted that the property, under
which the oldest part of the true Catacomb of Callistus is constructed, belonged most
likely, according to De Rossi's researches, to the family of St. Cecilia (Gens Caecilia),
and by donation passed into the possession of the Roman Church. Although her name is not
mentioned in the earliest (fourth century) list of feasts (Depositio martyrum), the fact
that in the "Sacramentarium Leoniam", a collection of masses completed about the end of the
fifth century, are found no less than five different masses in honour of St. Cecilia
testifies to the great veneration in which the saint was at that time held in the Roman
Church ["Sacram. Leon.", ed. Muratori, in "Opera" (Arezzo, 1771), XIII, I, 737, sqq.].
About the middle of the fifth century originated Acts of the martyrdom of St. Cecilia which
have been transmitted in numerous manuscripts; these acts were also translated into Greek.
They were utilized in the prefaces of the above-mentioned masses of the "Sacramentarium
Leonianum". They inform us, that Cecilia, a virgin of a senatorial family and a Christian
from her infancy, was given in marriage by her parents to a noble pagan youth Valerianus.
When, after the celebration of the marriage, the couple had retired to the wedding-chamber,
Cecilia told Valerianus that she was betrothed to an angel who jealously guarded her body;
therefore Valerianus must take care not to violate her virginity. Valerianus wished to see
the angel, whereupon Cecilia sent him to the third milestone on the Via Appia where he
should meet Bishop (Pope) Urbanus. Valerianus obeyed, was baptized by the pope, and
returned a Christian to Cecilia. An angel then appeared to the two and crowned them with
roses and lilies. When Tiburtius, the brother of Valerianus, came to them, he too was won
over to Christianity. As zealous children of the Faith both brothers distributed rich alms
and buried the bodies of the confessors who had died for Christ. The prefect, Turcius
Almachius, condemned them to death; an officer of the prefect, Maximus, appointed to
execute this sentence, was himself converted and suffered martyrdom with the two brothers.
Their remains were buried in one tomb by Cecilia. And now Cecilia herself was sought by the
officers of the prefect. Before she was taken prisoner, she arranged that her house should
be preserved as a place of worship for the Roman Church. After a glorious profession of
faith, she was condemned to be suffocated in the bath of her own house. But as she remained
unhurt in the overheated room, the prefect had her decapitated in that place. The
executioner let his sword fall three times without separating the head from the trunk, and
fled, leaving the virgin bathed in her own blood. She lived three days, made dispositions
in favour of the poor, and provided that after her death her house should be dedicated as a
church. Urbanus buried her among the bishops and the confessors, i.e. in the Catacomb of
In this shape the whole story has no historical value; it is a pious romance, like so many
others compiled in the fifth and sixth century. The existence of the aforesaid martyrs,
however, is a historical fact. The relation between St. Cecilia and Valerianus, Tiburtius,
and Maximus, mentioned in the Acts, has perhaps some historical foundation. These three
saints were buried in the Catacomb of Praetextatus on the Via Appia, where their tombs are
mentioned in the ancient pilgrim Itineraria. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" their
feast is set down under 14 April with the note: "Romae via Appia in cimiterio Prætextati";
and the octave under 21 April, with the comment: "Rome in cimiterio Calesti via Appia". In
the opinion of Duchesne the octave was celebrated in the Catacomb of Callistus, because St.
Cecilia was buried there. If, therefore, this second notice in the martyrology is older
than the aforesaid Acts, and the latter did not give rise to this second feast, it follows
that before the Acts were written this group of saints in Rome was brought into relation
with St. Cecilia. The time when Cecilia suffered martyrdom is not known. From the mention
of Urbanus nothing can be concluded as to the time of composition of the Acts; the author
without any authority, simply introduced the confessor of this name (buried in the Catacomb
of Praetextatus) on account of the nearness of his tomb to those of the other martyrs and
identified him with the pope of the same name. The author of the "Liber Pontificalis" used
the Acts for his notice of Urbanus. The Acts offer no other indication of the time of the
martyrdom. Venantius Fortunatus (Miscellanea, 1, 20; 8,6) and Ado (Martyrology, 22
November) place the death of the saint in the reign of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus (about
177), and De Rossi tried to prove this view as historically the surest one. In other
Western sources of the early Middle Ages and in the Greek "Synaxaria" this martyrdom is
placed in the persecution of Diocletian. P.A. Kirsch tried to locate it in the time of
Alexander Severus (229-230); Aubé, in the persecution of Decius (249-250); Kellner, in that
of Julian the Apostate (362). None of these opinion is sufficiently established, as neither
the Acts nor the other sources offer the requisite chronological evidence. The only sure
time indication is the position of the tomb in the Catacomb of Callistus, in the immediate
proximity of the very ancient crypt of the popes, in which Urbanus probably, and surely
Pontianus and Anterus were buried. The earliest part of this catacomb dates at all events
from the end of the second century; from that time, therefore, to the middle of the third
century is the period left open for the martyrdom of St. Cecilia.
Her church in the Trastevere quarter of Rome was rebuilt by Paschal I (817-824), on which
occasion the pope wished to transfer thither her relics; at first, however, he could not
find them and believed that they had been stolen by the Lombards. In a vision he saw St.
Cecilia, who exhorted him to continue his search, as he had already been very near to her,
i.e. near her grave. He therefore renewed his quest; and soon the body of the martyr,
draped in costly stuffs of gold brocade and with the cloths soaked in her blood at her
feet, was actually found in the Catacomb of Prætextatus. They may have been transported
thither from the Catacomb of Callistus to save them from earlier depredations of the
Lombards in the vicinity of Rome. The relics of St. Cecilia with those of Valerianus,
Tiburtius, and Maximus, also those of Popes Urbanus and Lucius, were taken up by Pope
Paschal, and reburied under the high altar of St. Cecilia in Trastevere. The monks of a
convent founded in the neighbourhood by the same pope were charged with the duty of singing
the daily Office in this basilica. From this time the veneration of the holy martyr
continued to spread, and numerous churches were dedicated to her. During the restoration of
the church in the year 1599 Cardinal Sfondrato had the high altar examined and found under
it the sarcophagi, with the relics of the saints, that Pope Paschal had transported
thither. Recent excavations beneath the church, executed at the instigation and expense of
Cardinal Rampolla, disclosed remains of Roman buildings, which have remained accessible. A
richly adorned underground chapel was built beneath the middle aisle, and in it a latticed
window, opening over the altar, allows a view of the receptacles in which the bones of the
saints repose. In a side chapel of the church there have long been shown the remains of the
bath in which, according to the Acts, Cecilia was put to death.
The oldest representations of St. Cecilia show her in the attitude usual for martyrs in the
Christian art of the earlier centuries, either with the crown of martyrdom in her hand
(e.g. at S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, in a sixth-century mosaic) or in the attitude of
prayer, as an Orans (e.g. the two sixth and seventh-century pictures in her crypt). In the
apse of her church in Trastevere is still preserved the mosaic made under Pope Paschal,
wherein she is represented in rich garments as patroness of the pope. Medieval pictures of
the saint are very frequent; since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries she is given the
organ as an attribute, or is represented as playing on the organ, evidently to express what
was often attributed to her in panegyrics and poems based on the Acts, viz., that while the
musicians played at her nuptials she sang in her heart to God only ("cantantibus organis
illa in corde suo soi domino decantabat"); possibly the cantantibus organis was erroneously
interpreted of Cecilia herself as the organist. In this way the saint was brought into
closer relation with music. When the Academy of Music was founded at Rome (1584) she was
made patroness of the institute, whereupon her veneration as patroness of church music in
general became still more universal; today Cecilian societies (musical associations) exist
everywhere. The organ is now her ordinary attribute; with it Cecilia was represented by
Raphael in a famous picture preserved at Bologna. In another magnificent masterpiece, the
marble statute beneath the high altar of the above-mentioned church of St. Cecilia at Rome,
Carlo Maderna represented her lying prostrate, just as she had received the death-blow from
the executioner's hand. Her feast is celebrated in the Latin and the Greek Church on 22
November. In the "Martyrologium Hieronymainum" are commemorated other martyrs of this name,
but of none of them is there any exact historical information. One suffered martyrdom in
Carthage with Dativus in 304

Thursday, July 21, 2011


St. Germaine Cousin
Born 1579Pibrac, France
Died 1601Pibrac, France
Beatified 7 May 1864
Canonized 29 June 1867 by Pope Pius IX
Feast June 15
Born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse; died in her native place in 1601. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty. Under pretence of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula she persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead, and thus the child was employed almost from infancy as a shepherdess. When she returned at night, her bed was in the stable or on a litter of vine branches in a garret. In this hard school Germaine learned early to practise humility and patience. She was gifted with a marvellous sense of the presence of God and of spiritual things, so that her lonely life became to her a source of light and blessing. To poverty, bodily infirmity, the rigours of the seasons, the lack of affection from those in her own home, she added voluntary mortifications and austerities, making bread and water her daily food. Her love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and for His Virgin Mother presaged the saint. She assisted daily at the Holy Sacrifice; when the bell rang, she fixed her sheep-hook or distaff in the ground, and left her flocks to the care of Providence while she heard Mass. Although the pasture was on the border of a forest infested with wolves, no harm ever came to her flocks.
She is said to have practised many austerities as a reparation for the sacrileges perpetrated by heretics in the neighbouring churches. She frequented the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist, and it was observed that her piety increased on the approach of every feast of Our Lady. The Rosary was her only book, and her devotion to the Angelus was so great that she used to fall on her knees at the first sound of the bell, even though she heard it when crossing a stream. Whenever she could do so, she assembled the children of the village around her and sought to instil into their minds the love of Jesus and Mary. The villagers were inclined at first to treat her piety with mild derision, until certain signs of God's signal favour made her an object of reverence and awe. In repairing to the village church she had to cross a stream. The ford in winter, after heavy rains or the melting of snow, was at times impassable. On several occasions the swollen waters were seen to open and afford her a passage without wetting her garments. Notwithstanding her poverty she found means to help the poor by sharing with them her allowance of bread. Her father at last came to a sense of his duty, forbade her stepmother henceforth to treat her harshly, and wished to give her a place in the home with the other children, but she begged to be allowed to remain in the humbler position. At this point, when men were beginning to realize the beauty of her life, God called her to Himself. One morning in the early summer of 1601, her father finding that she had not risen at the usual hour went to call her; he found her dead on her pallet of vine-twigs. She was then twenty-two years of age.
Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact. Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.
Her remains were buried in the parish church of Pibrac in front of the pulpit. In 1644, when the grave was opened to receive one of her relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved, and miraculously raised almost to the level of the floor of the church. It was exposed for public view near the pulpit, until a noble lady, the wife of François de Beauregard, presented as a thanks-offering a casket of lead to hold the remains. She had been cured of a malignant and incurable ulcer in the breast, and her infant son whose life was despaired of was restored to health on her seeking the intercession of Germaine. This was the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at her relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy, and in 1661 and 1700 the remains were viewed and found fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse, who have left testamentary depositions of the fact.
Expert medical evidence deposed that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1700 a movement was begun to procure the beatification of Germaine, but it fell through owing to accidental causes. In 1793 the casket was desecrated by a revolutionary tinsmith, named Toulza, who with three accomplices took out the remains and buried them in the sacristy, throwing quick-lime and water on them. After the Revolution, her body was found to be still intact save where the quick-lime had done its work.
The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845.
The private veneration of Germaine had continued from the original finding of the body in 1644, supported and encouraged by numerous cures and miracles. The cause of beatification was resumed in 1850. The documents attested more than 400 miracles or extraordinary graces, and thirty postulatory letters from archbishops and bishops in France besought the beatification from the Holy See. The miracles attested were cures of every kind (of blindness, congenital and resulting from disease, of hip and spinal disease), besides the multiplication of food for the distressed community of the Good Shepherd at Bourges in 1845. On 7 May, 1854, Pius IX proclaimed her beatification, and on 29 June, 1867, placed her on the canon of virgin saints. Her feast is kept in the Diocese of Toulouse on 15 June. She is represented in art with a shepherd's crook or with a distaff; with a watchdog, or a sheep; or with flowers in her apron.



Cosmas and Damian miraculously transplant the black leg
of the Ethiopian onto the white body of the patient.

Born 3rd century ADArabia
Died c. 287 AD Aegea, Roman province of Syria

Feast September 26

Early Christian physicians and martyrs whose feast is celebrated on 27 September. They were
twins, born in Arabia, and practised the art of healing in the seaport Ægea, now Ayash
(Ajass), on the Gulf of Iskanderun in Cilicia, Asia Minor, and attained a great reputation.
They accepted no pay for their services and were, therefore, called anargyroi, "the
silverless". In this way they brought many to the Catholic Faith. When the Diocletian
persecution began, the Prefect Lysias had Cosmas and Damian arrested, and ordered them to
recant. They remained constant under torture, in a miraculous manner suffered no injury
from water, fire, air, nor on the cross, and were finally beheaded with the sword. Their
three brothers, Anthimus, Leontius, and Euprepius died as martyrs with them. The execution
took place 27 September, probably in the year 287. At a later date a number of fables grew
up about them, connected in part with their relics. The remains of the martyrs were buried
in the city of Cyrus in Syria; the Emperor Justinian I (527-565) sumptuously restored the
city in their honour. Having been cured of a dangerous illness by the intercession of
Cosmas and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude for their aid, rebuilt and adorned their church
at Constantinople, and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV
(526-530) erected a church in their honour, the mosaics of which are still among the most
valuable art remains of the city. The Greek Church celebrates the feast of Saints Cosmas
and Damian on 1 July, 17 October, and 1 November, and venerates three pairs of saints of
the same name and profession. Cosmas and Damian are regarded as the patrons of physicians
and surgeons and are sometimes represented with medical emblems. They are invoked in the
Canon of the Mass and in the Litany of the Saints

The twin brothers Saint Cosmas and Damian (Greek: Κοσμάς και Δαμιανός) (also written Kosmas
and Damianos) (died ca. 287) were physicians and early Christian martyrs born in Cilicia,
part of today's Turkey. They practiced their profession in the seaport of Aegea (modern
Ayas, in the Gulf of İskenderun), then in the Roman province of Syria. Accepting no payment
for their services led to them being named "Ανάργυροι" (Unmercenary); it has been said
that, by this, they attracted many to the Christian faith

As early as the 4th century, churches dedicated to the twin saints were established at
Jerusalem, in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. Theodoret records the division of their relics.
Their relics, deemed miraculous, were buried in the city of Cyrrus in Syria. Churches were
built in their honor by Archbishop Proclus and by Emperor Justinian I (527–565), who
sumptuously restored the city of Cyrus and dedicated it to the twins, but brought their
relics to Constantinople; there, following his cure, ascribed to the intercession of Cosmas
and Damian, Justinian, in gratitude also built and adorned their church at Constantinople,
and it became a celebrated place of pilgrimage. At Rome Pope Felix IV (526–530) rededicated
the Library of Peace (Bibliotheca Pacis) as a basilica of Santi Cosma e Damiano in the
Forum of Vespasian in their honour. The church is much rebuilt but still famed for its
sixth-century mosaics illustrating the saints.
What are said to be their skulls are venerated in the convent of the Clares in Madrid,
where they have been since 1581, the gift of Maria, daughter of Emperor Charles V. They had
previously been removed from Rome to Bremen in the tenth century, and thence to Bamberg
(Matthews). Other skulls said to be theirs have been discovered at Easter 1334 by Burchard
Grelle, Prince-Archbishop of Bremen. He "personally 'miraculously' retrieved the relics of
the holy physicians Cosmas and Damian, which were allegedly immured and forgotten in the
quire of the Bremen Cathedral.In celebration of the retrieval Archbishop and Chapter
arranged a feast at Pentecost 1335, when the relics were translated from the wall to a more
dignified place."Grelle claimed the relics were those Archbishop Adaldag brought from Rome
in 965. In about 1400 the cathedral master-builder Johann Hemeling commissioned a shrine
for the relics, which has been accomplished until after 1420. The shrine from carved oak
wood covered with gilt rolled silver is considered an important mediaeval gold work.
The martyr twins are invoked in the Canon of the Mass in the prayer known as the
Communicantes (from the first Latin word of the prayer): "In communion with the whole
Church, they venerate above all others the memory of the glorious ever-virgin Mary, Mother
of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ, then of blessed Joseph, husband of the Virgin, your
blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James, John, Thomas, James, Philip,
Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude: Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian,
Laurence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian and all your Saints: grant through
their merits and prayers that in all things we may be defended by the help of your
protection." They are also invoked in the Litany of the Saints.


Born 332Tagaste, Numidia (present-day Algeria)
Died 387 Ostia, outside of Rome
Feast 27 August
Saint Monica (or Monnica) (332 – 387) is a Christian saint and the mother of Augustine of Hippo, who wrote extensively of her virtues and his life with her in his Confessions.
Monica comes almost entirely from the writings of her much-loved son, the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine of Hippo. His relationship with his mother was a close one, especially during Monica's last years. In Book IX of St. Augustine's , he gives us many details of her life, and expresses his gratitude for her devotion in moving terms.
Born of Christian parents at Tagaste, North Africa, in 333; died at Ostia, near Rome, in 387.
We are told but little of her childhood. She was married early in life to Patritius who held an official position in Tagaste. He was a pagan, though like so many at that period, his religion was no more than a name; his temper was violent and he appears to have been of dissolute habits. Consequently Monica's married life was far from being a happy one, more especially as Patritius's mother seems to have been of a like disposition with himself. There was of course a gulf between husband and wife; her almsdeeds and her habits of prayer annoyed him, but it is said that he always held her in a sort of reverence. Monica was not the only matron of Tagaste whose married life was unhappy, but, by her sweetness and patience, she was able to exercise a veritable apostolate amongst the wives and mothers of her native town; they knew that she suffered as they did, and her words and example had a proportionate effect.
Three children were born of this marriage, Augustine the eldest, Navigius the second, and a daughter, Perpetua. Monica had been unable to secure baptism for her children, and her grief was great when Augustine fell ill; in her distress she besought Patritius to allow him to be baptized; he agreed, but on the boy's recovery withdrew his consent. All Monica's anxiety now centred in Augustine; he was wayward and, as he himself tells us, lazy. He was sent to Madaura to school and Monica seems to have literally wrestled with God for the soul of her son. A great consolation was vouchsafed her — in compensation perhaps for all that she was to experience through Augustine — Patritius became a Christian. Meanwhile, Augustine had been sent to Carthage, to prosecute his studies, and here he fell into grievous sin. Patritius died very shortly after his reception into the Church and Monica resolved not to marry again. At Carthage Augustine had become a Manichean and when on his return home he ventilated certain heretical propositions she drove him away from her table, but a strange vision which she had urged her to recall him. It was at this time that she went to see a certain holy bishop, whose name is not given, but who consoled her with the now famous words, "the child of those tears shall never perish." There is no more pathetic story in the annals of the Saints than that of Monica pursuing her wayward son to Rome, wither he had gone by stealth; when she arrived he had already gone to Milan, but she followed him. Here she found St. Ambrose and through him she ultimately had the joy of seeing Augustine yield, after seventeen years of resistance. Mother and son spent six months of true peace at Cassiacum, after which time Augustine was baptized in the church of St. John the Baptist at Milan. Africa claimed them however, and they set out on their journey, stopping at Cività Vecchia and at Ostia. Here death overtook Monica and the finest pages of his "Confessions" were penned as the result of the emotion Augustine then experienced.
St. Monica was buried at Ostia, and at first seems to have been almost forgotten, though her body was removed during the sixth century to a hidden crypt in the church of St. Aureus. About the thirteenth century, however, the cult of St. Monica began to spread and a feast in her honour was kept on 4 May. In 1430 Martin V ordered the relics to be brought to Rome. Many miracles occurred on the way, and the cultus of St. Monica was definitely established. Later the Archbishop of Rouen, Cardinal d'Estouteville, built a church at Rome in honour of St. Augustine and deposited the relics of St. Monica in a chapel to the left of the high altar. The Office of St. Monica however does not seem to have found a place in the Roman Breviary before the sixteenth century.
It is the prayers of Monica herself that have been invoked by generations of the faithful who honor her as a special patroness of married women and as an example for Christian motherhood


ST. AUGUSTINE, Confession, IX, reprinted in SURIUS. GUALTERUS, Canon Regular of Ostia, who was especially charged with the work of removing the relics from Ostia by Martin V, wrote a life of the saint with an account of the translation. He appended to the life a letter which used to be attributed to St. Augustine but which is undoubtedly spurious; it purports to be written to his sister Perpetua and describes their mother's death. The BOLLANDISTS decide for the contemporary character of the letter whilst denying it to St. Augustine. BARONIUS, Ann. Eccl., ad an. 389; BOUGAUD, Histoire de S. Monique.



The solemn decree of her beatification was published by Innocent XII in 1696.

The miracle of StZita

Born 1218 Monsagrati or Monte Sagrati, near Lucca, Italy
Died 27 April 1278 (1278-04-27) (aged 60)Lucca, Italy
Honored in Roman Catholic Church
Canonized 1696
Feast 27 April
She was born in the beginning of the thirteenth century at Montsegradi, a village near Lucca in Italy. She was brought up with the greatest care, in the fear of God, by her poor virtuous mother, whose early and constant attention to inspire the tender heart of her daughter with religious sentiments seemed to find no obstacles, either from private passions or the general corruption of nature, so easily were they prevented or overcome. Zita had no sooner attained the use of reason, and was capable of knowing and loving God, than her heart was no longer able to relish any other object, and she seemed never to lose sight of him in her actions. Her mother reduced all her instructions to two short heads, and never had occasion to use any further remonstrance to enforce her lessons than to say, "This is most pleasing to God; this is the divine will"; or, "That would displease God."
The sweetness and modesty of the young child charmed everyone who saw her. She spoke little, and was most assiduous at her work; but her business never seemed to interrupt her prayers. At twelve years of age she was put to service in the family of a citizen of Lucca, called Fatinelli, whose house was contiguous to the church of St. Frigidian. She was thoroughly persuaded that labour is enjoined all men as a punishment of sin, and as a remedy for the spiritual disorders of their souls; and far from ever harbouring in her breast the least uneasiness, or expressing any sort of complaint under contradictions, poverty, and hardships, and still more from ever entertaining the least idle, inordinate, or worldly desire, she blessed God for placing her in a station in which she was supplied with the most effectual means to promote her sanctification, by the necessity of employing herself in penitential labour, and of living in a perpetual conformity and submission of her will to others. She was also very sensible of the advantages of her state, which afforded all necessaries of life, without engaging her in the anxious cares and violent passions by which worldly persons, who enjoy most plentifully the goods of fortune, are often disturbed; whereby their souls resemble a troubled sea, always agitated by impetuous storms, without knowing the sweetness of a true calm. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance; and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.
Notwithstanding her extreme attention to her exterior employments, she acquired a wonderful facility of joining with them almost continual mental prayer and of keeping her soul constantly attentive to the divine presence. Who would not imagine that such a person should have been esteemed and beloved by all who knew her?
Nevertheless, by the appointment of divine providence, for her great spiritual advantage, it fell out quite otherwise and for several years she suffered the harshest trials. Her modesty was called by her fellow-servants simplicity, and want of spirit and sense; and her diligence was judged to have no other spring than affectation and secret pride. Her mistress was a long time extremely prepossessed against her, and her passionate master could not bear her in his sight without transports of rage.
It is not to be conceived how much the saint had continually to suffer in this situation. So unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten, she never repined nor lost her patience; but always preserved the same sweetness in her countenance, and the same meekness and charity in her heart and words, and abated nothing of her application to her duties. A virtue so constant and so admirable at length overcame jealousy, antipathy, prepossession, and malice.
Her master and mistress discovered the treasure which their family possessed in the fidelity and example of the humble saint, and the other servants gave due praise to her virtue. Zita feared this prosperity more than adversity, and trembled lest it should be a snare to her soul. But sincere humility preserved her from its dangers; and her behaviour, amidst the caresses and respect shown her, continued the same as when she was ill-treated and held in derision; she was no less affable, meek, and modest; no less devout, nor less diligent or ready to serve everyone. Being made housekeeper, and seeing her master and mistress commit to her with an entire confidence the government of their family and management of all their affairs, she was most scrupulously careful in point of economy, remembering that she was to give to God an account of the least farthing of what was intrusted as a depositum in her .hands; and, though head-servant, she never allowed herself the least privilege or exemption in her work on that account.
She used often to say to others that devotion is false if slothful. Hearing a man-servant speak one immodest word, she was filled with horror, and procured him to be immediately discharged from the family. With David, she desired to see it composed only of such whose approved piety might draw down a benediction of God upon the whole house and be a security to the master for their fidelity and good example. She kept fast the whole year, and often on bread and water; and took her rest on the bare floor or on a board. Whenever business allowed her a little leisure, she spent it in holy prayer and contemplation in a little retired room in the garret; and at her work repeated frequently ardent ejaculations of divine love, with which her soul appeared always inflamed. She respected her fellow-servants as her superiors. If she was sent on commissions a mile or two in the greatest storms, she set out without delay, executed them punctually, and returned often almost drowned, without showing any sign of reluctance or murmuring.
By her virtue she gained so great an ascendant over her master that a single word would often suffice to check the greatest transports of his rage; and she would sometimes cast herself at his feet to appease him in favour of others. She never kept anything for herself but the poor garments which she wore: everything else she gave to the poor. Her master, seeing his goods multiply, as it were, in her hands, gave her ample leave to bestow liberal alms on the poor, which she made use of with discretion, but was scrupulous to do nothing without his express authority. If she heard others spoken ill of, she zealously took upon her their defence and excused their faults.
Always when she communicated, and often when she heard mass, and on other occasions, she melted in sweet tears of divine love: she was often favoured with ecstasies during her prayers. In her last sickness she clearly foretold her death, and having prepared herself for her passage by receiving the last sacraments, and by ardent signs of love, she happily expired on the 27th of April, in 1272, being sixty years old: one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession have been juridically proved. Her body was found entire in 1446 and is kept with great respect in St. Frigidian's church, richly enshrined; her face and hands are exposed naked to view through a crystal glass. Pope Leo X granted an office in her honour. The city of Lucca pays a singular veneration to her memory.

she was an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys.