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Article: July 8 + Saint Queen Elizabeth of Portugal

July 8 + Saint Queen Elizabeth of Portugal - VENXARA®

July 8 + Saint Queen Elizabeth of Portugal

Elizabeth was born in 1271, the daughter of Pedro III who would become King of Aragon. Isabella, the Spanish version of her name by which she is known in Portuguese history, was named for her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Like St. Elizabeth of Hungary, she followed the rule of life as a Third Order Franciscan after the death of her husband, living near a convent of Poor Clares she had founded at Coimbra. Their lives were similar in some important ways: both of them were married at very young ages, they sought to live the precepts of the Gospel despite their status as royalty, and finished their lives as members of the Third Order of St. Francis.

From her youth, Elizabeth was a devout child who attended daily mass, prayed regularly, and fasted. These practices of piety and devotion equipped her with the strength and fortitude she would need when she was married at age 12 to Denis, King of Portugal. Though Denis was fond of his young wife, he did not share her piety and often strayed into sin, resulting in seven illegitimate children with other women. These children were lovingly cared for by Elizabeth along with her own two children: her daughter Constance (who married King Ferdinand IV of Castile) and son Afonso (who later became King Afonso IV of Portugal). This fact caused strife when Afonso felt slighted for the illegitimate children. Elizabeth served as peacemaker between her son and husband, resulting in their ultimate reconciliation.

Elizabeth was a devoted patroness and personal friend of the poor and sick, and she compelled the women who served her at court to care for them as well. The queen's bishop testified that she had a custom of secretly inviting in lepers, whom she would bathe and clothe, even though the law of the land barred them from approaching the castle.

After Denis' death in 1325, Elizabeth retired to the monastery of the Poor Clare nuns, which she had founded some years before. She joined the Third Order of St. Francis, devoting the rest of her life to the poor and sick in obscurity. The testimony of miracles accomplished through her intercession, after her death in 1336, contributed to her canonization by Pope Urban VIII in 1625.

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