Catholic Activity: Nameday Ideas for the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
High on the list of popular names but no longer among the top ten is Elizabeth, the name of the mother of St. John the Baptist. All we know of her is limited to the first chapter of St. Luke's Gospel. Elizabeth gave first utterance to the words which ever since have been addressed to the Mother of God: "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." Her feast, along with her husband Zachary's, is kept on November 5.
Two Queen Elizabeths are saints. Elizabeth of Portugal, called Isabella, was married to King Denis and became a Poor Clare tertiary after his death. Her feast is July 8. Her niece, Elizabeth of Hungary, was married to Louis, landgrave of Thuringia, at the age of fourteen; she was an exemplary wife and mother, and after Louis died on a crusade, she became a Franciscan tertiary, devoting herself to the relief of the destitute and living a life of voluntary poverty until her death at 24 years of age. Her feastday is November 17.
Legend says that on one occasion in the middle of winter she left her castle with her apron filled with bread for the poor. On the way she met her husband. He opened her cape to see what she carried and found her apron full of roses, not bread. When he bent to kiss Elizabeth he found her face transfigured with the radiance of heaven. In addition to the rose, she has as her symbol three crowns to indicate her royal birth, her married state, and her glorification in heaven.
Elizabeth of Hungary is the patroness of Bette, Beth, Eliza, Eiles, Isabel, Ishbel, Elsie, Bessie, Bettina, Elise, and Ilse. Her nameday prayer is:
Father: Let us pray. O God of mercy, enlighten the hearts of Your faithful and grant us the grace that through the prayers of the glorious and blessed Elizabeth we may scorn the wealth of the world and see heaven as our joy and consolation. Through Christ, our Lord.
All: Amen. Christ conquers, Christ reigns!
Good St. Elizabeth carried away Fresh little loaves for the poor each day. One wintry day, Louis saw her go Heavily burdened and walking slow; "My Lady," he cried, "What do you bear So heavy beneath your mantle there?" "Roses!" Amazed, he saw most fair, Blossoms that perfumed the frosty air! Smiling, he closed her mantle and said: "Go, my dear, give the poor the bread."
Dessert and decorations. The rose cake or the crown cake is suitable on the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. If you have a punch bowl, freeze a wreath of roses to decorate it. In a ring mold, fill half way with water and partially freeze. Add unsprayed roses and leaves, evenly spaced. Add water to fill the mold and freeze. Unmold at serving time and use in a bowl of fruit punch.
Saints Plaits (see Heilige Kapfe) are also appropriate on this nameday. Bake small loaves or biscuits in a muffin tin to honor St. Elizabeth's charity to the poor. Frost and top each with a tiny rose. A baker (or an artistic mother with plenty of time) will find the basket cake interesting to make on this feastday.
Elizabeth by Mary Harris is a book for eight or nine-year-olds to read. Virgin and Child with St. Elizabeth and St. Barbara by Van Dyck comes from the Frick Collection.
Activity Source: My Nameday — Come for Dessert by Helen McLoughlin, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1962