Semi-Double Feast of Saint Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal and Widow
Missa "Cognovi, Domine"
St. Elizabeth of Portugal was born in 1271 and was named after her great-aunt, the great Elizabeth of Hungary, but is known in Portuguese history by the Spanish form of that name, Isabel. The daughter of Pedro III, King of Aragon, and Constantia, grandchild of Emperor Frederick II, she was educated very piously, and led a life of strict regularity and self-denial from her childhood: she said the full Divine Office daily, fasted and did other penances, and gave up amusement.
Elizabeth was married very early to King Denis of Portugal, a poet, and known as Rei Lavrador, or the working king, from his hard work in his country's service. His morals, however, were extremely bad, and the court to which his young wife was exposed was extremely corrupt.
Nevertheless, Elizabeth quietly pursued the regular religious practices of her maidenhood, whilst doing her best to win her husband's affections by gentleness and extraordinary forbearance.
She was devoted to the poor and sick, and gave every moment she could spare to helping them, even pressing her court ladies into their service. Naturally, such a life was a reproach to many around her, and caused ill will in some quarters. A popular story is told of how her husband's jealousy was roused by an evil-speaking page; of how he condemned the queen's supposed guilty accomplice to a cruel death; and was finally convinced of her innocence by the strange accidental substitution of her accuser for the intended victim.
Denis does not appear to have reformed in morals till late in life, Elizabeth won him to repentance by her prayers and unfailing sweetness. They had two children, a daughter Constantia and a son Alfonso. The latter so greatly resented the favors shown to the king's illegitimate sons that he rebelled, and in 1323 war was declared between him and his father.
Always the peacemaker, St. Elizabeth traveled in person, riding into the midst of the opposing armies. By doing so she reconciled her husband and son. Her husband Denis died in 1325, his son succeeding him as Alfonso IV.
With her son on the throne and her duties as queen behind her, St. Elizabeth retired to a convent of Poor Clares which she had founded at Coimbra. There she took the Franciscan Tertiary habit, wishing to devote the rest of her life to the poor and sick in obscurity.
But she was called forth to act once more as peacemaker. In 1336 Affonso IV marched his troops against the King of Castile, to whom he had married his daughter Maria, and who had neglected and ill-treated her. In spite of age and weakness, the holy queen dowager insisted on hurrying to Estremoz, where the two king's armies were drawn up. She again stopped the fighting and caused terms of peace to be arranged.
However, the exertion brought on her final illness; and as soon as her mission was fulfilled she died of a fever on July 4, 1336, full of heavenly joy, and exhorting her son to the love of holiness and peace. She was buried at Coimbra, and miracles followed her death. She was canonized by
Pope Urban VIII in 1625, and her feast is kept on July 8 in the liturgical calendar. Source: Catholic Encyclopedia, 1909
Resources: We are grateful to Friends of Our Lady of Fatima for providing the Propers for the faithful. Sources: Saint Andrew Daily Missal and the Marian Missal , 1945
Missa "Cognovi, Domine"
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INTROIT: Psalm 118: 75, 120