Among the Saints of the Middle Ages there is no one better known or better loved than St. Elizabeth of Hungary. The people used to call her the “dear St. Elizabeth,” because she was so charitable to the poor, and was so kind to all who were in affliction.
Of all the works of charity she performed, that of visiting the sick in the hospitals and the poor in their homes was the one she loved most. She would watch by their sick-bed, and give them their food, and perform for them the menial duties of a sick-nurse, with the same care and diligence as if she had been hired for that purpose.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary taking care of the sick. Painting by Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla
The ladies of her household, who did not care for this kind of employment, used to try to persuade her that it was beneath the dignity of her position to perform such things.
“It will be enough for you,” they said, “to speak to them, and give them words of consolation; let others attend to their wants.”
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Bringing Food for the patients of a Hospital. Painting by Adam Elsheimer.
Elizabeth answered, “I am preparing for the Day of Judgment. On that day Jesus will ask me for an account of the good works I have done for Him, and I desire to be able to say to Him, ‘You see, O Lord, when You were hungry, I gave You to eat; when You were thirsty, I gave You to drink; when You were naked, I clothed You; when You were sick, I visited You; because You said that in doing these things to the poor, I did them for Yourself. I beseech You be indulgent, therefore, to me in the sentence You are to pass upon me.’”
Rev. D. Chisholm, The Catechism in Examples (London: R & T Washbourne, Ltd., 1919), 214-5.
Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 341