St Elizabeth of Portugal – 04 July
Princess. Daughter of King Pedro III of Aragon and Constantia; great-granddaughter of Emperor Frederick II. Great-niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, for whom she was named. She had a pious upbringing with daily liturgy and praying of the hours, regular religious instruction and education. Married at age twelve to King Diniz of Portugal, and thus Queen of Portugal before she was a teenager.
The king was known for his hard work, his poetic nature, and his lack of morals. Elizabeth suffered through years of abuse and adultery, praying all the while for his conversion, and working with the poor and sick. Mother of two, Princess Constantia and Prince Affonso. She sometimes convinced the ladies of the court to help with her charity work, but most of the time she just incurred their jealousy and ill will. The king appears to have reformed late in life, though whether from Elizabeth’s faith or his imminent death is unknown.
Prince Affonso rebelled against the favours that King Diniz bestowed on his illegitimate sons, and in 1323 forces of the king and prince clashed in open civil war. Though she had been unjustly accused of siding with her son against the crown, Elizabeth rode onto the battlefield between them, and was able to reconcile father and son, and prevent bloodshed. This led to her patronage as a peacemaker, and as one invoked in time of war and conflict.
After the death of the king in 1325, she distributed her property to the poor, became a Franciscan tertiary, and retired to a monastery of Poor Clares she had founded at Coimbra.
In 1336 her son, now King Affonso IV, marched against his son-in-law, the King of Castile to punish him for being a negligent and abusive husband. Despite her age and ill health, Elizabeth hurried to the battlefield at Estremoz, Portugal, and again managed to make peace in her family, and thus maintain peace in her land.
St Elizabeth was born in 1271 at Aragon, Spain and died on 4 July 1336 at Estremoz, Portugal of fever. She is buried at Coimbra, Portugal and miracles have been reported at her tomb.