Saint Elizabeth (1271-1336) Essay Example

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1481 Words
Date:  2022-08-15

The idea of saints evolved alongside religion. The Bible describes the virtuous lives of saints including Peter, Stephen, and Paul, and tells the stories of other martyrs who willingly gave their lives for religion. Only the Roman Catholic Church has an official process for creating saints. Saints can either be martyrs or confessors. "A martyr is a person who is put to death for his/her faith. On the other hand, a confessor is a famous medieval saint who died a natural death" (Hahn & Jeffrey 12). In the medieval ages, saints were vital sources of teaching and inspiration for Christians in Europe. In the New Testament, the term saint applies to those who were deemed to have served the Christian faith in any significant way.

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Saint Elizabeth of Portugal was born in 1271 in Spain to King Peter III and Queen Constanza (Hahn & Jeffrey 14). During this time, many European Monarchs sought to have her as a bride for their sons. At age 12, she was married to King Denis of Portugal (Hahn & Jeffrey 16). As a young person, she learned self-discipline and acquired a taste of spirituality. She succeeded brilliantly in making peace and mediating disputes in her marriage and family. Her marriage was filled with unfaithfulness and domestic violence. She endured the insults from her husband with great patience and forgiving love. She prayed, fasted, and made amends in order to obtain the conversion of her husband.

After a long time of trials, Saint Elizabeth managed to convince the king (her husband) to give up his immoral ways of life and start following the ways of Christ (Patrick 10). She guided him to conversion and became an example for Christian husbands in the Kingdom and the surrounding territories. Elizabeth is the patron saint of peacemakers and victims of adultery. Those experiencing disagreement and conflict in their marriages can use this saint as an example and call her a powerful intercessor. Other than saving her family, Saint Elizabeth cared for beggars, immigrants, the sick, and strangers. She had extraordinary knowledge, and this was an added advantage to the rule of the King.

Saint Elizabeth did not like wars or feuds. She reminds believers that regardless of their political and theological beliefs, it is prudent to love and seek friendship with those with whom we differ. As Christians, our primary objective is to preach the word of God to our enemies, love, and accept them. She also believes that there is the need for Christians to seek a personal relationship with God. In order to be truly good, Christians should seek to include modifications of their likes and whims along with prayer. She was careful to order her life and desires towards the love of God and neighbor.

Having been married to a man with little morals, Saint Elizabeth dedicated her time to educating the king about the need to remain responsible and to obey God. Because she had such a great love for the Eucharist, she dedicated herself to studying the life of Saint Clare who was known for her love for the Eucharist (Hahn & Jeffrey 17). Saint Elizabeth's cult combines aristocratic and courtly aspects with the urban spirituality of orders which are highly regarded as godly. Her adoption of the life of voluntary poverty had a profound impact on the subjects of the Kingdom. For the subjects, it was a generalized image of charity, the care for the poor, children, and the ill.

Saints were committed to ensuring that the society understands Jesus, His values, and beliefs. Every day was a feast day to at least a few saints, and every church had its local saint. The medieval church recognized and revered many saints. "Wide-ranging universally accepted saints were given devotion and exerted vast influence across Christendom" (Patrick 12). Saint Elizabeth manifested a great love for the less privileged. She chose a life of self-discipline when a life of leisure could easily have been hers. Her life was full of examples of resistance to temptation and evil, and heroic faith and virtue which could encourage, teach, and inspire.

The pilgrimage was a fundamental element in the cult of Saint Elizabeth. Most people sought physical proximity to her relic in the hope that this connection would bring them blessings and help. Saint Elizabeth exemplified Christian virtues such as charity and faith. She was regarded as a specific resource for those on the pilgrimage of life (Peter 19). For the Christians who are pursuing an inner journey of prayer and contemplation, Saint Elizabeth is seen as a model to follow, almost personal mentor.

The cult of Saint Elizabeth inspired both emulation and devotion. It also led to the instigation of religious orders. Just like the Virgin Mary, Saint Elizabeth held the heart of Christendom in her hands and was seen as a spiritual ideal that would change the way Christians see themselves (Hahn & Jeffrey 20). For medieval Christians, veneration of saints played a critical role, and their cult impacted the theology of the church and the religious lives of the ordinary people. The role played by Saint Elizabeth act as a bridge between this world and the next.

The saint has played a critical role in the historical scholarships. For instance, besides being a source of inspiration and motivation for a Christian life, Christians believe that Saint Elizabeth act as an intercessor petitions God for the specific earthly needs, and connects Christians of different classes and nationalities in their support for one movement (Patrick 15). Her life mirrors her death, and this is extended to miracles performed when alive as well as her quality of being holy even after death. God's power is still seen to reside in her flesh even after her death to the extent that some Catholic believers say her flesh did not decay but was preserved to be safe from violation.

There are a number of research questions that could be used to prepare a more thorough research paper including:

  • Why was it necessary for Christians to demonstrate the role of saints by drawing a parallel with an existing cult?
  • What are some forms of writing created to serve a variety of purposes in the medieval age?
  • Was the process of canonization primarily meant to build the saint's reputation or stimulate faith and attract pilgrims?
  • What were the main roles of saints?
  • Why is place pilgrimage a fundamental element in the cult of saints such as Elizabeth?
  • How were men and women made saints and why were they made saints?
  • As miracle became associated with a specific shrine or church, what motivated saints to encourage the society to seek for forgiveness?
  • Why are miraculous events attributed to local saints at particular shrines or places?
  • How can saints influence the world? Through miracles or through their relics? Is it possible for people to ask for the intercession of a particular saint especially if the saint is active at that time?
  • If devotion and veneration of the saints led to the rise of pilgrimage, did pilgrimage support saintly cults?

Saint Elizabeth acts as a bridge between heaven and earth. She is seen to have transmitted the glory of God into the world and provided a medium and place for the ordinary people to experience God (Patrick 16). Christians normally offer their prayers to saints and God for thanks and help. Those who lived as saints in heaven are part of the church. Though transformed, they have a physical presence and tangible connections which enable them to pray on behalf of the believers. Catholics believe that if a saint chooses to intercede on their behalf, the prayers will be more weighty that when the same prayer is conducted by ordinary Christians. Initially, believers saw heaven as the court of God where He presided as Judge and King. In this regard, they find it necessary to petition God and those who are closer to Him such as saints would have a stronger petition than an ordinary person.

Saint Elizabeth represented the less fortunate. She was committed to ensuring that equality was a priority. In most of her struggles, her desire was to see change; change based on the respect for humanity and the rule of law. The power of her saintly intercession became so widespread and a great part of a basic religion that guides Christians. In Catholicism, if believers want saintly intercession, they have to know which saint to ask for which purpose. They should also know where to go for pilgrimage and the relic that is likely to heal them.


Hahn, Cynthia, and Jeffrey f. Hamburger. "Cynthia Hahn Portrayed on the Heart: Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century-Book ReviewArt Bulletin, The, March 2004 by Lawrence Nees."

Patrick Geary, Living with the Dead in the Middle Ages, Ithaca, Cornell University Press, 1994.

Peter Brown, The Cult of Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity, Chicago: University of Chicago, Press, 1982

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