Jesus said to the disciples:
‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.
‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.’
Source: Jerusalem Bible
Catechism of the Catholic Church
CONVERSION AND SOCIETY
1886 Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which “subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones:”
Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.
1887 The inversion of means and ends, which results in giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it, or in viewing persons as mere means to that end, engenders unjust structures which “make Christian conduct in keeping with the commandments of the divine Law-giver difficult and almost impossible.”
1888 It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it.
1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.” This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”
For the leader. Of David, the servant of the LORD, who sang to the LORD the words of this song after the LORD had rescued him from the clutches of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.
He said: I love you, LORD, my strength,
LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.
The breakers of death surged round about me; the menacing floods terrified me.
The cords of Sheol tightened; the snares of death lay in wait for me.
In my distress I called out: LORD! I cried out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry to him reached his ears.
The earth rocked and shook; the foundations of the mountains trembled; they shook as his wrath flared up.
Smoke rose in his nostrils, a devouring fire poured from his mouth; it kindled coals into flame.
He parted the heavens and came down, a dark cloud under his feet.
Mounted on a cherub he flew, borne along on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness the cover about him; his canopy, heavy thunderheads.
Before him scudded his clouds, hail and lightning too.
The LORD thundered from heaven; the Most High made his voice resound.
He let fly his arrows and scattered them; shot his lightning bolts and dispersed them.
Then the bed of the sea appeared; the world’s foundations lay bare, At the roar of the LORD, at the storming breath of his nostrils.
He reached down from on high and seized me; drew me out of the deep waters.
He rescued me from my mighty enemy, from foes too powerful for me.
They attacked me on a day of distress, but the LORD came to my support.
He set me free in the open; he rescued me because he loves me.
The LORD acknowledged my righteousness, rewarded my clean hands.
For I kept the ways of the LORD; I was not disloyal to my God.
His laws were all before me, his decrees I did not cast aside.
I was honest toward him; I was on guard against sin.
So the LORD rewarded my righteousness, the cleanness of my hands in his sight.
Toward the faithful you are faithful; to the honest you are honest;
Toward the sincere, sincere; but to the perverse you are devious.
Humble people you save; haughty eyes you bring low.
You, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens the darkness about me.
With you I can rush an armed band, with my God to help I can leap a wall.
God’s way is unerring; the LORD’S promise is tried and true; he is a shield for all who trust in him.
Truly, who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is the rock?
This God who girded me with might, kept my way unerring,
Who made my feet swift as a deer’s, set me safe on the heights,
Who trained my hands for war, my arms to bend even a bow of bronze.
You have given me your protecting shield; your right hand has upheld me; you stooped to make me great.
You gave me room to stride; my feet never stumbled.
I pursued my enemies and overtook them; I did not turn back till I destroyed them.
I struck them down; they could not rise; they fell dead at my feet.
You girded me with strength for war, subdued adversaries at my feet.
My foes you put to flight before me; those who hated me I destroyed.
They cried for help, but no one saved them; cried to the LORD but got no answer.
I ground them fine as dust in the wind; like mud in the streets I trampled them down.
You rescued me from the strife of peoples; you made me head over nations. A people I had not known became my slaves;
as soon as they heard of me they obeyed. Foreigners cringed before me;
their courage failed; they came trembling from their fortresses.
The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock! Exalted be God, my savior!
O God who granted me vindication, made peoples subject to me,
and preserved me from my enemies, Truly you have exalted me above my adversaries, from the violent you have rescued me.
Thus I will proclaim you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.
You have given great victories to your king, and shown kindness to your anointed, to David and his posterity forever.
Source: The New American Bible
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, T.O.S.F. (German: Heilige Elisabeth von Thüringen, Hungarian: Árpád-házi Szent Erzsébet; 7 July 1207 – 17 November 1231), also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia or Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia, was a princess of the Kingdom of Hungary, Landgravine of Thuringia, Germany, and a greatly venerated Catholic saint who was an early member of the Third Order of St. Francis, by which she is honored as its patroness.
Elizabeth was married at the age of 14, and widowed at 20. After her husband’s death she sent her children away and regained her dowry, using the money to build a hospital where she herself served the sick. She became a symbol of Christian charity after her death at the age of 24 and was quickly canonized.
Early Life and Marriage
Elizabeth was the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary and Gertrude of Merania. Her mother’s sister was Hedwig of Andechs, wife of Duke Heinrich I of Silesia. Her ancestry included many notable figures of European royalty, going back as far as Vladimir the Great of the Kievan Rus. According to tradition, she was born in Hungary, possibly in the castle of Sárospatak, on 7 July 1207.
A sermon printed in 1497 by the Franciscan friar Osvaldus de Lasco, a church official in Hungary, is the first to name Sárospatak as the saint’s birthplace, perhaps building on local tradition. The veracity of this account is not without reproach: Osvaldus also translates the miracle of the roses (see below) to Elizabeth’s childhood in Sárospatak and has her leave Hungary at the age of five.
According to a different tradition she was born in Pozsony, Hungary, (present-day Bratislava, Slovakia), where she lived in the Castle of Posonium until the age of four.
Elizabeth was brought to the court of the rulers of Thuringia in central Germany, to be betrothed to Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia (also known as Ludwig IV), a future union which would reinforce political alliances between the families. She was raised by the Thuringian court and would have been familiar with the local language and culture.
In 1221, at the age of fourteen, Elizabeth married Louis; the same year he was enthroned as Landgrave, and the marriage appears to have been happy.
Religious inclinations, influences
In 1223, Franciscan friars arrived, and the teenage Elizabeth not only learned about the ideals of Francis of Assisi, but started to live them. Louis was not upset by his wife’s charitable efforts, believing that the distribution of his wealth to the poor would bring eternal reward; he is venerated in Thuringia as a saint, though he was never canonized by the Church.
It was also about this time that the priest and later inquisitor Konrad von Marburg gained considerable influence over Elizabeth when he was appointed as her confessor. In the spring of 1226, when floods, famine, and plague wrought havoc in Thuringia, Louis, a staunch supporter of the Hohenstaufen Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, represented Frederick II at the Imperial Diet held in Cremona.
Elizabeth assumed control of affairs at home and distributed alms in all parts of their territory, even giving away state robes and ornaments to the poor. Below Wartburg Castle, she built a hospital with twenty-eight beds and visited the inmates daily to attend to them.
Elizabeth’s life changed irrevocably on 11 September 1227 when Louis, en route to join the Sixth Crusade, died of a fever in Otranto, Italy, just a few weeks before the birth of her daughter Gertrude. Upon hearing the news of her husband’s death, Elizabeth reportedly said, “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me as if the whole world died today.” His remains were returned to Elizabeth in 1228 and entombed at the Abbey of Reinhardsbrunn.
After Louis’ death, his brother, Henry (German: Heinrich) Raspe, assumed the regency during the minority of Elizabeth’s eldest child, Hermann (1222–1241). After bitter arguments over the disposal of her dowry — a conflict in which Konrad was appointed as the official Defender of her case by Pope Gregory IX — Elizabeth left the court at Wartburg and moved to Marburg in Hesse.
Up to 1888 it was believed, on account of the testimony of one of Elizabeth’s servants during the canonization process, that Elizabeth was driven from the Wartburg in the winter of 1227 by her brother-in-law, Heinrich Raspe, who acted as regent for her son, then only five years old. About 1888 various investigators (Börner, Mielke, Wenck, E. Michael, etc.) asserted that Elizabeth left the Wartburg voluntarily. She was not able at the castle to follow Konrad’s command to eat only food obtained in a way that was certainly right and proper.
Following her husband’s death, Elizabeth made solemn vows to Konrad similar to those of a nun. These vows included celibacy, as well as complete obedience to Konrad as her confessor and spiritual director. Konrad’s treatment of Elizabeth was extremely harsh, and he held her to standards of behavior which were almost impossible to meet. Among the punishments he is alleged to have ordered were physical beatings; he also ordered her to send away her three children. Her pledge to celibacy proved a hindrance to her family’s political ambitions. Elizabeth was more or less held hostage at Pottenstein, the castle of her uncle, Bishop Ekbert of Bamberg, in an effort to force her to remarry. Elizabeth, however, held fast to her vow, even threatening to cut off her own nose so that no man would find her attractive enough to marry.
Elizabeth’s second child Sophie of Thuringia (1224–1275) married Henry II, Duke of Brabant, and was the ancestress of the Landgraves of Hesse, since in the War of the Thuringian Succession she won Hesse for her son Heinrich I, called the Child. Elizabeth’s third child, Gertrude of Altenberg (1227–1297), was born several weeks after the death of her father; she became abbess of the monastery of Altenberg Abbey, Hesse near Wetzlar.
Elizabeth built a hospital at Marburg for the poor and the sick with the money from her dowry, where she and her companions cared for them. Her official biography written as part of the canonization process describes how she ministered to the sick and continued to give money to the poor.
Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her miracle of the roses which says that whilst she was taking bread to the poor in secret, she met her husband Ludwig on a hunting party, who, in order to quell suspicions of the gentry that she was stealing treasure from the castle, asked her to reveal what was hidden under her cloak. In that moment, her cloak fell open and a vision of white and red roses could be seen, which proved to Ludwig that God’s protecting hand was at work.
Her husband, according to the vitae, was never troubled by her charity and always supported it. In some versions of this story, it is her brother in law, Heinrich Raspe, who questions her. Hers is the first of many miracles that associate Christian saints with roses, and is the most frequently depicted in the saint’s iconography.
Crucifix in the Bed
Another story about St Elizabeth, also found in Dietrich of Apolda’s Vita, relates how she laid the leper Helias of Eisenach in the bed she shared with her husband. Her mother-in-law, who was horrified, told this immediately to Ludwig on his return. When Ludwig removed the bedclothes in great indignation, at that instant “Almighty God opened the eyes of his soul, and instead of a leper he saw the figure of Christ crucified stretched upon the bed.” This story also appears in Franz Liszt’s oratorio about Elizabeth.
Death and Legacy
Very soon after the death of Elizabeth, miracles were reported that happened at her grave in the church of the hospital, especially those of healing. On the suggestion of Konrad, and by papal command, examinations were held of those who had been healed between August 1232 and January 1235. The results of those examinations was supplemented by a brief vita of the saint-to-be, and together with the testimony of Elizabeth’s handmaidens and companions, proved sufficient reason for quick canonization. She was canonized by Pope Gregory IX.
The papal bull declaring her a saint is on display in the Schatzkammer of the Deutschordenskirche in Vienna, Austria. Her body was laid in a magnificent golden shrine—still to be seen today—in the Marburg church bearing her name. Her remains were removed and scattered by her own descendant, the Landgrave Philip I “the Magnanimous” of Hesse, at the time of the Reformation.
It is now a Protestant church, but has spaces set aside for Catholic worship. Marburg became a center of the Teutonic Order, which adopted St. Elizabeth as its secondary patroness. The Order remained in Marburg until its official dissolution by Napoleon in 1803. A bejeweled reliquary believed to have contained her head was taken as loot by the Swedish army during the Thirty Years’ War and is today displayed in the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.
Association with the Franciscans
After her death, Elizabeth was commonly associated with the Third Order of Saint Francis, the primarily lay branch of the Franciscan Order, which has helped propagate her cult. Whether she ever actually joined the order, only recently founded in 1221, the year when she married Louis at the age of fourteen, is not proven to everyone’s satisfaction.
It must be kept in mind though that the Third Order was such a new development in the Franciscan movement, that no one official ritual had been established at that point. Elizabeth clearly had a ceremony of consecration in which she adopted a Franciscan religious habit in her new way of life, as noted above.
From her support of the friars sent to Thuringia, she was made known to the founder, St Francis of Assisi, who sent her a personal message of blessing shortly before his death in 1226. Upon her canonization she was declared the patron saint of the Third Order of St Francis, an honor she shares with St Louis IX of France.