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Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: Royal Patroness of Bakers

Born and raised in a Catholic home, Reina is deeply passionate about sharing her faith with all people.

 St. Elizabeth washing a sick man a scene from the main altar of St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Kassa, 15th Century

St. Elizabeth washing a sick man a scene from the main altar of St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Kassa, 15th Century

November 17 is a special day for the entire Secular Franciscan Order. It is the feast of Elizabeth of Hungary, who is their patron saint. Bakers also regard her the same way. Her noble character takes the symbol of roses, a crown, and a food basket.

A Catholic journalist named Lori Pieper made a documentary about the saint. Information on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) shows that the release date for the film is the same day as her feast day in 2011. It is a production of Pilgrimage Films.

Tau Cross Books is the publishing company that distributed the film in DVD format. However, their website is no longer active. The DVD is on display on Amazon but is currently unavailable. There is not much information at hand about the motion picture.

Royal Family Heritage

The crown attributes to her royal family heritage. Elizabeth was the daughter of the King of Hungary. She was born on July 7, 1207. It is unclear where she was born in Hungary. Some believe she was born in the castle of Sarospatak in Northern Hungary.

Her father, Alexander II, arranged her marriage early in her childhood. She was only four years old when she went to school in Thuringia, Germany. Ten years later, she married Louis IV, the man his father betrothed her to.

Unlike many fixed marriages, this royal wedding was a happy one until Louis IV died of sickness on the way to the Crusades. His passing caused Elizabeth so much grief. She was only twenty years old.

Miracle of the Roses

A legend goes that this miracle of the roses took place while her husband was still alive. Saint Elizabeth was in the habit of taking loaves of bread in secret to feed the poor in her neighborhood. This heroic act of charity inspired those dough makers to treat her as their patroness.

Louis came home from a hunting trip one day when he saw Elizabeth coming out hiding something in her cape. He was never against his wife's generosity, but his family objected to her noble deed. They accused her of stealing from the royal treasury.

To end their suspicions, Louis asked Elizabeth to show him what she was hiding under her cape. He grabbed her cloak to see what was inside. Surprisingly, he didn't find any loaves of bread but only red and white roses.

The vision convinced the count that God was protecting his wife. The Church proclaimed her a saint four years after her death. Louis IV became known as Blessed Louis of Thuringia, but German people also revere him as a saint.

Becoming Franciscan

The life of Saint Francis of Assisi inspired Elizabeth of Hungary. Franciscan friars arrived in her place when she was sixteen years old. They taught her about the Franciscan ideals that led her to follow in his footsteps. The bread basket portrays a picture of the saint's devotion to the poor and the hungry.

Elizabeth and her husband live a simple life despite their prominent position in society. They were also very generous to the poor. Elizabeth wore simple clothes and took the time every day to give bread to the people in their land. After her husband's death, Elizabeth vowed never to marry again.

She wanted to live a life like that of a nun against the wishes of her relatives. Elizabeth joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and established a hospital in honor of the saint. She worked in this hospital until she passed away at the young age of 24 on November 17, 1231.

Cause for Sainthood

Several miracles of healing attributed to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary took place after her death. They occurred at her graveside near the hospital she established. Her handmaidens testified to these miracles.

Another miracle even happened while Louis IV was still alive. Saint Elizabeth took a leper in her home to treat his wounds. He made the poor man lay on the bed that she shared with her husband.

Elizabeth's mother-in-law felt enraged with this deed. She reported to her son, which annoyed Louis eventually. But, when he went to see the leper, he didn't find the man. Instead, he saw a figure of the crucified Christ on the bed.

Holiness Acclaimed

All of these happenings gave enough reason for her canonization. Pope Gregory IX declared her a saint on May 27, 1235. A gold shrine stands in Elizabeth Church, but her descendants took her remains and scattered them during the Reformation. Artists paint her image in honor of the two miracles of the roses and the crucified Christ.

Catholics celebrate her feast day on November 17 every year. She became the patron saint of many people from different sectors of society, including bakers and widows. The Sisters of Mercy also take her as their patron saint. Pope Benedict XVI acclaimed her as a model for those in authority.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Reina Mendoza

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