Elizabeth of Hungary – 18 November 2019

A girl sits at her wheel, spinning wool. She carefully watches both hands, as her foot is on the treadle to spin the wheel. The spinning wheel has long been associated with female holiness, so here as she spins she prays. Her outer dress is red, the colour of saints and martyrs. The girl here is Elizabeth of Hungary, whose is commemorated on 18 November, and the wool she spins is to make clothes for the poor. On the wall beside her hangs an icon of the face of Christ, the same face she saw in every poor person she served.

Elizabeth, Princess of Thuringia, who was married at 14 and widowed by 20, built a hospital at Marburg for the poor with the money from her dowry. There she and her companions cared for the sick and destitute. She was an early member of the Third Order of Franciscans, who count her as their patroness. She died at Marburg in 1231 at the age of 24.

The painting is by Marianne Stokes (1895).


Do good, and evil will not overtake you. Prayer with fasting is good, but better than both is almsgiving with righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than wealth with wrongdoing. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold. For almsgiving saves from death and purges away every sin. Those who give alms will enjoy a full life.

Tobit 12:6b-9

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

James 2: 14-17

Lord God,
who taught Elizabeth of Hungary
to recognize and reverence Christ in the poor of this world:
by her example
strengthen us to love and serve the afflicted and the needy
and so to honour your Son, the servant king,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Collect of Elizabeth of Hungary, Common Worship