“ A young, wife, mother [and] widow consecrated to the Lord when she was just 24 years old”: With these words, the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, described the figure of St. Elizabeth of Hungary during the small celebration held in Jerusalem on November 17. In the chapel of the house Maria Bmabina, near the monastery of St. Savior, several volunteers of the Custody came together with friars and locals from the old city, as well as the Franciscan sisters of the Daughters of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who manage chapel. The mass was celebrated by the Custos, and the Secretary of the Holy Land, Fr. David Grenier, was also present, along with the head of the Terra Santa Schools, Fr. Ibrahim Faltas.
The young St. Elizabeth (1207-1231), daughter of the King of Hungary, Andrew II the Jerusalemite (who had led the fifth Crusade), lived out her faith in God so intensely, according to the spirit of St. Francis, that she dedicated her life to caring for the sick and the poor. Her spirit of charity was supported and shared by her husband Ludovic IV, who died in Otranto (Italy) before embarking on the sixth Crusade.
St. Elizabeth, after losing her husband, followed the Gospel message to the letter, “widows must have educated their children well, […] they must have helped the needy and performed every kind of good deed” (1 Tim, 5), said Fr. Patton in his homily. That is why the young princess-queen became the patron saint of the Third Franciscan Order and is famous throughout Europe as a protector of nurses and charitable societies. This spirit of love and service to others united all those who took part in the Eucharistic celebration in the small chapel of The Child Mary. At the end of the mass, Sr. Mariangela, mother of the Franciscan Sisters, took the floor to thank [those present] and invite [everyone] to continue the celebration with a light refreshment.
“It was a moment of joy, and we are happy to have experienced it as a family with the friars, Christians from the neighborhood and pilgrims,” said Sr. Mariangela, the mother superior of the community composed of four sisters. In the house Maria Bambina, the Franciscan Sisters welcome pilgrims from all over the world to Jerusalem. Among those present at the feast of St. Elizabeth, were also the many young volunteers who, through the works of the Franciscan friars, in the same spirit as St. Elizabeth, support the Christian community of the Holy Land with their service each day.
Corrado Scardigno – ATS Pro Terra Sancta