The following is an adaptation of a mediation composed by Brother Niklaus Kuster, a German Capuchin. As we celebrate the feast date of the Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, we renew our own commitment to justice and compassion.
Elizabeth of Hungary: Social Justice, Compassion, and the Franciscan Calling
When she was three years old Elizabeth’s father, King Andreas II, handed her over to the Count of Thuringia as a political gesture. A child in a strange land! Throughout the rest of her life, she pushed boundaries and challenged the status quo that built walls between people rather than bridges. After her marriage at age 14, the young princess followed the longing of her heart rather than the norms of the ruling class—offending many among the aristocrats. As Countess she often left the castle to seek out the poorest and most marginalized of her subjects. As a young widow she made herself the barefooted sister of the poorest.
Most of us are not affluent; we don’t belong to a privileged class. What can we learn from our patroness that can help us understand our Franciscan vocation in today’s society?
A child abandoned in a foreign country: migrants
So many people today must leave the culture that nurtured them to find safety, work, or dignified living conditions in Canada. As a new-comer, Elizabeth was open to adapting to her new environment, even though many of the ruling family resented this “foreigner.” In adversity, after her husband’s death, she was so deeply connected with the German people, that she was seen as a mother, a sister, and a friend to many.
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