Elizabeth of Portugal


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Elizabeth of Hungary (1207—1231)


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queen. The daughter of Peter III, king of Aragon, and named Elizabeth after her distant relative Elizabeth of Hungary, she married King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve and bore him two children about eight years later. Denis was a strong ruler but a bad husband; Elizabeth pursued a life of prayer and piety and founded hospitals, orphanages, and homes for ‘fallen women’. In addition she provided hospitality for pilgrims and the poor. A peacemaker all her life, she reconciled her son with her husband after he had taken up arms, and, at the end of her life, prevented a war between Portugal and Castile. Her husband fell ill in 1324 and died the following year after being devotedly nursed by Elizabeth and giving clear signs of repentance. Elizabeth then went on pilgrimage to Compostela and wanted to become a Poor Clare nun, but was dissuaded. Instead she retired to a small house near the monastery she had founded, became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived in great simplicity like Elizabeth of Hungary. Her last peacemaking enterprise exhausted her and she died at Estremoz on 4 July. She was buried in the Poor Clares' convent at Coimbra. Many miracles followed; Leo X authorized the celebration of her feast locally in 1516; Urban VIII canonized her in 1626. Feast: 4 July.

AA.SS. Iul. II (1721), 169–213;A. G. Ribeiro De Vasconcellos, Evolucão do culto de Dona Isabel de Aragão (2 vols., 1894);P. de Mouncheron, St Elisabeth d'Aragon (1896);V. McNabb, St Elizabeth of Portugal (1937). H.S.S.C., vii. 275.

Subjects: Christianity.

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