Elisabeth of thuringia – kathpedia

Elisabeth of Thuringia (* 1207 in Sárospatak / Hungary; † November 17, 1231 in Marburg), internationally also under the name Elisabeth of Hungary known is a Catholic saint.

She was the daughter of the Hungarian King Andreas II from the house of the Arpades and Queen Gertrud of Andechs-Merania, and later became Countess of Thuringia. Devoted to the love of God and neighbor from an early age, she gave up her existence at the Thuringian court in favor of a life oriented towards the Franciscan ideal of poverty.

She is the founder of a Franciscan monastery in Eichenau, a hospital in Eisenach, and fed the Thuringian population during the great famine of 1225/1226, by distributing goods and food from the royal granary. Together with her husband, she founded a hospital in Gotha in 1223. From her widow’s legacy, she built a hospital in Marburg in 1228, where she worked as a hospital nurse until her early death. Elisabeth was one of the first tertiaries of the Third Order of St. Francis in Germany.

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Elisabeth was born in 1207 [1] as the daughter of the Hungarian king Andreas II and his first wife Gertrud von Andechs-Meranien at Sárospatak castle [2] in the north Hungary born. Elisabeth’s parents Andreas II, King of Hungary (1205-1235) and Gertrud von Meranien (died 1213) married in 1202, but were only able to continue their married life in 1204 due to the struggle for the Hungarian throne with the actual heir to the throne, Andreas’ older brother Emerich , Andreas was crowned king in May 1205. Elisabeth’s siblings were named Bela (born 1206, heir to the throne, later married to the Byzantine empress Maria Laskaris), Koloman (born 1208), Andreas and Maria (later married to Ivan II. Asan, Tsar of Bulgaria).

Elisabeth grew up bilingually at the Hungarian royal court. Her mother Gertrud promoted Germanism in Hungary to a considerable extent. For her protection, she also surrounded herself with German knights, who had her families moved to Hungary. Gertrud was a strong woman who knew how to implement her good intentions.

Her brother Berthold was elected Archbishop of Kalosca in Hungary in 1206, and received 1207 dispensation for the episcopal ordination from the Pope, since he was not yet 30 years old. From 1208/09, Gertrud’s brothers Bishop Eckbert from Bamberg and Margrave Heinrich of Istria also stayed at his sister Gertrud’s court after he had to flee the German Empire because of alleged sympathy for the murder of King Philip II. From there Bishop Eckbert ran his rehabilitation, which was carried out in 1211 in Bamberg by cleaning oath. Around 1211, the Hungarian king also called for the help of the Teutonic Knights to defend the ancestral settlement area of ​​the Saxons in Burzenland in the south-east of Transylvania against the attacks of the pagan castles and the Turkic people of the Cumanians, with the Teutonic Order prevailing in bitter battles and later the area was given as a gift from the king.

Elisabeth’s mother fell victim to the jealousy of Hungarian nobles on September 28, 1213, who were outraged by the rich allocation of royal lands to the noble German families in Hungary and the appointment of Berthold as Archbishop of Kalosca and Voivodeship of Transylvania. In the absence of King Andreas II, who was on a campaign to defend Hungary, the queen and part of the German nobility were attacked in the forest of Pilis (in the east of the Hungarian low mountain range) and brutally murdered. She was buried in the church of the Cistercian monastery in Pillis. A murder attack was also carried out on Elisabeth’s uncle Archbishop Berthold. However, he escaped with some injuries and was taken out of the country with the help of two bishops. Gertrude’s murderer, Peter von Törre, was caught and executed.

The Hungarian royal family was considered pious and had been papally friendly for generations. King Bela III founded 5 Cistercian monasteries and vowed to take part in the crusade, for which he made considerable financial reserves. The son he treasured was inherited by his son Andreas II, who fulfilled the promise of a cross in 1217. Andreas was described as a kind and peaceful man. Queen Gertrud gave the Silesian Cistercian monastery Lebus a golden crown so that a communion cup could be poured from it. The birth of Elisabeth was requested by God from her parents and accompanied by the fulfillment of a great vow made before God. [3]

Just a few months after her birth, Elisabeth was promised to the heir to the throne Heinrich I of Thuringia, and prepared for this fate. Since Elisabeth only spent her first five years with her parents, she hardly got to know her siblings. Heinrich I of Thuringia often got news about his son and successor’s fiancee. Diedrich von Apolda reports:

"Then it happened that a barefoot came to him and said: "I had been blind since the age of four and also had a paralyzed hand. I went to the child, who put an apple in it from which he had bitten off. I stroked my hand and eyes with the apple and immediately got well. All of Hungary was happy about the child because it brought peace and happiness."
Dietrich von Apolda, Vita S. Elyzabeth, manuscript 1481 [4]

On March 31, 1211, the ban of Pope Innocent III. against Emperor Otto IV generally announced, and the German princes called for resistance against the emperor. Here alliances were made against the Emperor Otto IV for the Staufer Friedrich of Sicily (later Emperor Friedrich II.). Both the Hungarian king and landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia were included in this alliance. Hermann I stood up for the Staufer so much that Otto IV waged war against him and besieged the Weissensee castle. In order to strengthen the Staufen party, to secure the alliance and the peace, an engagement contract was signed around Hermann in 1211, which provided for Elisabeth to be married to his son Hermann.

Elisabeth came to the court of Landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia in 1211 at the age of four / five, whose headquarters were at the Wartburg near Eisenach, and was engaged to Hermann. The bride’s present was a thousand silver marks, noble gems, precious vessels, jewelry and valuable silk textiles, purple robes, precious and artistic household items, a silver tub and a silver cradle in which Elisabeth lay. The Hungarian Queen Gertrud later wanted to increase the amount of money, which she did not get due to her early death. The bride in Pressburg was handed over to Count Meinhard von Mühlberg, Knight Walter von Varugula and Bertha von Bendeleben. She was accompanied by Count Berthold and his wife, as well as a girl of about the same age, Guda. Count Berthold and his wife stayed at the Hermann I court for a year to protect them, and later returned to Hungary, where he was richly rewarded by the Hungarian king for this service. Guda remained Elisabeth’s companion for many years, and she also wrote important reports about Elisabeth’s childhood.

Heinrich I was a participant in the crusade in 1197/98, and was involved both in the conquest of Acre and in the founding of the Teutonic Order in the Holy Land. Many of Elisabeth’s new relatives also belonged to the Teutonic Order. Heinrich generously promoted medieval art, especially minnesong. At times, well-known poets such as Heinrich von Veldeke, Walter von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach were located at the Thuringian court. In his songs Walther criticized court life in Thuringia, in particular addiction to waste and the behavior of the knights. His wife Sophia went through a stronger religious development after the arrival of Elisabeth. He had the Nikolaikirche built in Creuzburg in 1215 and the chapel of the Wartburg renewed. In 1215 he, Sophia and his niece Imagina founded the Catherine’s Monastery in Eisennach, which Imagina was the first abbess to head.

At the court of the Langrafen von Thuringia Elisabeth received a befitting upbringing especially from the Countess Sophia, who came from the Wittelsbach family, and who spoke the same Bavarian language as Elisabeth’s birth mother, in whose place Sophie now took the place. Back then, the girls at the court usually learned to behave noble, well-mannered, reading and writing, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, riding (in the saddle with a whip), spinning, weaving, sewing and knitting flax. Elisabeth found it difficult to spin flax, but she was an excellent rider. Together with her playmate Guda, five-year-old Elisabeth was welcomed to a group of children at the Thuringian court, which consisted of the descendants of the landgrave family. Among other things, in addition to her thirteen-year-old fiance, Heinrich, eleven-year-old Ludwig, seven-year-old Heinrich Raspe and Konrad, who was about the same age as Elisabeth.

The growing up Elisabeth stood out because she loved love and mercy, detached herself from court etiquette, neglected court ceremonies, and showed a warm and, above all, personal approach to those in need, to whom the nobility took the greatest possible distance. Very often little Elisabeth was found kneeling or lying in prayer in front of the Psalter or on the threshold of the chapel. In the game, she moved the other children to pray the Lord’s Prayer and the Ave Maria, among other things, by calling the children:"Let’s go around the church and say prayers!"

"Then she said to the children:"Remember that we have to become dust!" and further "Dead people are buried here. They lived like us and are now dead. It will be the same for us. Therefore we should love God. Repeat the words for me: "Lord, for your painful death and for your dear mother Mary, deliver them from their anguish!" She did this very often, so Master Albertus says: "I mean, she never came from there without having at least redeemed a soul through her prayer."."
Dietrich von Apolda, Vita S. Elyzabeth, manuscript 1481 [5]

The more she grew up to be a beautiful young woman, Elisabeth was increasingly exposed to mockery in speech and deed by her future Thuringian relatives, who were attached to the showy and intriguing court life from which Elisabeth felt repelled. She broke through the atmosphere of mutual jealousy and resentment through a radically virtuous life, and thus became a constant annoyance and profound displeasure for many influential nobles as well as spiritual councilors, whose bitter insults she was exposed to. Elisabeth now often sought the company of simple maids. Her future mother-in-law tried to rectify the situation by acting to place her in a monastery. Others tried to send them back to the Hungarian royal court because the dowry was too small. But there were always pious members of the nobility and the knighthood who fended off the intrigue against them.

The new heir to the throne, Hermann, died on New Year’s Eve 1216, and his brother Ludwig, who was born around 1200, was appointed a wife. Landgrave Hermann I died in Gotha on April 26, 1217. After the death of her husband in 1217, Sophia entered the Catherine Monastery in Eisenach. Her son took over the reign as Ludwig IV, Count of Thuringia and Count of Palatinate of Saxony.

Then the prince pointed to a high mountain that lay before them and said: "Believe me, if this mountain were made of pure, fine gold from top to bottom – it would be easier for me to scorn it than to refrain from marrying Elisabeth. Everyone likes to think and talk what he wants, I love Elisabeth so much that I can’t forget her."
Dietrich von Apolda, Vita S. Elyzabeth, manuscript 1481 [6]

Ludwig IV married the fourteen-year-old Elisabeth in 1221 in the Georgenkirche in Eisenach. The marriage was based on the same attitude towards deep religiousness and warm love. Ludwig therefore tolerated Elisabeth’s ascetic way of life, her strenuous spiritual retreats and supported her works of mercy, which were considered suspicious to hostile on the part of his relatives. For example, during the great famine in Germany in the spring of 1226, Elisabeth had ordered Ludwig to set up a hospital in Eisennach and to distribute supplies among the needy. Elisabeth also contributed to the establishment of a hospital in Gotha in 1223, and in 1225 donated a chapel to the Franciscan beggar in Eisenach.

This charity and personal unpretentiousness was not understood by many in her courtly surroundings, but the many small people of the people saw her as their friendly "mother" and stood by her. Her husband Ludwig also defended his wife against accusations and hostilities. It was always the love of Christ that moved them to be close to the poor and despised and to share bread with them.

Three children emerged from their marriage:

  • Hermann (born 1222, † 1241), landgrave of Thuringia from 1239 to 1249, married Helene von Braunschweig Lüneburg
  • Sophie (born 1224, † 1275), 1247 wife Henry II, Duke of Brabant. Her son Heinrich later became the first landgrave of Hesse.
  • Gertrud (born 1227, † 1297), abbess of the Premonstratensian monastery in Altenberg, 1348 by Pope Clement VI. beatified. [7]

Elisabeth suffered a severe stroke of fate in 1227: her husband Ludwig, who set out on June 24 of the year to take part in an emperor’s crusade, died on September 11 in Otranto as a result of a plague. The reign over Thuringia passed to the two guardians of Elisabeth’s minor son Hermann, Ludwig’s brothers Heinrich and Konrad. The young widow with her children – she was only 20 years old – was now deprived of her property by displeasing people and expelled from the court with the children. Elisabeth, who had previously cared for the poor, had suddenly become poor herself. Immediately after Ludwig IV’s death became known, her confessor Magister Konrad von Marburg asked the Pope to protect her. Pope Gregory IX placed Elisabeth under apostolic protection, and appointed Konrad von Marburg (commissioned to pursue heretics from 1227, independent heretic judge from 1231) to Elisabeth’s defensor, and thus to her secular protector. In the presence of Konrad von Marburg, Elisabeth praised voluntary poverty on March 24, 1228 and renounced any decision of her own.

Stay at the Hochstift Bamberg

After her and her children were expelled, Elisabeth took her apartment in Bamberg with her uncle Ekbert von Andechs-Meranien, the bishop of Bamberg, probably in the Curia St. Elisabethae, Domstraße 7.

According to a description, she received the remains of her husband, the landgrave Ludwig IV of Thuringia, who died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, at the prince portal of the Bamberg cathedral.

Stay in Marburg

It was mainly through the use of Konrad von Marburg that Elisabeth’s fortune was secured against the landgrave family, and through the willingness to donate Konrad’s beneficiaries to compensate. However, Elisabeth was ready to give away everything she could do without: she founded a hospital in Marburg, named after Saint Francis of Assisi, whom she very much admired. The children were put up with relatives and she decided to dedicate her whole life to the service of Christ and the poor. The few years she had left until her energy was exhausted to help and serve the poor, the sick and the leper. In the night of November 16-17, 1231, Elisabeth died in Marburg at the age of only 24, after a life full of love and devotion.


Predictions about Elisabeth’s birth

In 1206, a singing competition began at the Wartburg, the seat of the influential landgrave Hermann I of Thuringia, which developed into a legendary war of singers. Heinrich I was the patron of medieval minstrels and poets. He organized a competition in which the leading German minstrels fought over who "to praise the best prince in the best way" understand. Wolfram von Eschenbach, Walther von der Vogelweide, Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Reinmar von Zweter, Biterolf and Der virtuoso Schreiber competed. The competitor Heinrich von Ofterdingen asked for a repeat of the competition, which took place in 1207. According to the legend, he invited Klingsohr, the figure of Wolfram von Eschenbach in his great epic, to the Hungarian singer, scholar and star interpreter Parzival einarbeitete. Klingsohr predicted the birth of Elisabeth at the Wartburg in Thuringia, with the words:

"I see a star that shines from Hungary to Marburg, all over the world. You should therefore know that a daughter was born to the King of Hungary that night. She will be called Elisabeth and become holy, and she will be given to the son of this prince as a wife. Your holiness will delight and exalt the whole country; for their praise and holiness will go from Hungary to Marburg, and from Marburg all over the world."
Dietrich von Apolda, Vita S. Elyzabeth, manuscript 1481 [8]


For the canonization of Elisabeth sat ahead to all Konrad von Marburg, to whom Pope Gregory IX had entrusted Elizabeth’s spiritual guidance and worldly care. On the day of St. Laurentius, August 10, 1232, the Archbishop of Mainz Siegfried III. and several prelates in Marburg. Konrad tried to draw her attention to the reports of miracles related to Elisabeth that were circulating among the people. Sixty such reports were then collected and sworn by witnesses. Konrad sent this collection together with his demolition of Elisabeth "Summa vitae" after August 11, 1232 to the Holy See. The Examination Board met in November and found over forty more miracles confirmed. In 1234 a renewed examination of the reports on the miracles (now 129) was commissioned, which was carried out by Bishop Konrad II of Hildesheim among others. At Pentecost 1235 it was celebrated by Pope Gregory IX. canonized in the Dominican Church of Perugia, and November 19 is her feast day.

The canonization bull "Gloriosus in maiestate"(Glorious in its glory) was dated June 1st, 1235. Konrad von Marburg was no longer able to experience the canonization of those who ordered him to be protected. He was murdered on July 30, 1233. In 1236, in the presence of Emperor Friedrich II, the Count’s family and many bishops, the bones of Elisabeth were translated in the pilgrimage church of Marburg. [9] Elisabeth’s coffin was removed from the earth and Frederick II crowned her head with a golden crown – a symbolic act with which the emperor honored Elisabeth as an eternal queen in the kingdom of God.


  • Catholic Day: November 17 (since 1970)

Commemoration day not offered Commemoration day in England Feast in the Franciscan and Capuchin orders Commemoration day not offered in the Trappist and Cistercian orders

  • Evangelical Memorial Day: November 19 (EKD, LCMS) & November 17 (ELCA)
  • Anglican Memorial Day: November 19


  • Basket of roses
  • Basket of bread
  • Bowl of fish
  • Beggar. Help seekers would be more appropriate.


Elisabeth vion Thuringia is the patron saint of the following "Keywords"

  • jobs

the baker of the lace makers

  • geography

of Thuringia of Hesse of the diocese of Erfurt second patron of the diocese of Fulda

  • People

the widows and orphans the beggars of the sick the innocent persecuted the needy

  • religion

of the Teutonic Order, the Caritas associations of the Franciscan Community, Franciscan Minorite Province


"St. Elisabeth says it / what winter for a man."

"St. Elisabeth announces / what a winter is ahead of us."


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Christina Cherry
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