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SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL: BEARER OF CHRIST'S PEACE

Among the Saints’ relics adorning the reredos of our High Altar is one of St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal. (This is the reliquary in the photo to the right.) She lived from 1271-1336. In the Sanctoral Calendar of the Pauline Reform, her annual feast is celebrated on July 4th (in the U.S.A., July 5th), and in the Tridentine Missal, July 8th. She was the namesake of her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary (who is on the stained glass window of our parish church, Oak Street side, by the confessional) and she was to prove herself worthy of such a name. Born a Princess Royal in the Kingdom of Aragon (present-day Catalonia, Spain), her very birth was the occasion for the reconciliation between her father and her grandfather the King who had been at odds with one another.

Bringing Christ’s peace into situations of conflict was to be her special unction. Married off to King Dennis of Portugal (a difficult man, to say the least) she conducted herself with dignity and piety. Her Catholic spirituality was much marked by the spirit of the Franciscan Revival going on in the Church at that time. Her example of self-renunciation and liberality to the poor left its good mark on the souls of those close to her and on the people of her Kingdom. Even during her lifetime, God granted her the gift of working miracles on behalf of the poor: 

She instantaneously cured a poor woman of a loathsome ulcer by kissing it. In the depth of winter she changed the money she was going to distribute to the poor into roses, in order to conceal it from the King. She gave sight to a virgin born blind, healed many other persons of grievous distempers by the mere sign of the Cross, and performed a great number of other miracles of a like nature. (Roman Breviary) 

Upon her husband the King’s death she put on the Franciscan habit of a Poor Clare and went to the shrine of St. James the Apostle at Compostella, where she lavished riches as a sinoffering for the repose of his soul. Upon her return from Compostella: 

Wholly engaged in feeding the poor, protecting widows, sheltering orphans and assisting the afflicted in every way, she lived not for herself but for the glory of God and the well-being of men. 

But causing wars to cease was no less a work of grace in her life. Once, when her son Alfonso had risen up against his father in armed rebellion, she went to the battlefield and rode her horse between the two armies about to engage, the arrows already flying to signify the attack. She stopped war between King Ferdinand IV of Castile and his cousin, and also between Ferdinand and her own brother James II, King of Aragon. The occasion of her death was another peace-making mission. Despite her ill-health and the dangerous heat, she went to the town of Estremoz to make peace between two warring kings—her son and son-in-law. There she received a vision of Our Lady, to prepare her for her death, and soon after died in the peace of Christ. 

How much her love for concord and peacemaking inspires! How much we should desire that spirit of peacemaking for ourselves! 

Fr. Higgins
 

 

About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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"If you are willing to serenely bear the trial of being displeasing to yourself, then you will be for Jesus a pleasant place of shelter."
- St. Therese of Lisieux (+1897)

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