Saint Elizabeth, called Elizabeth of Hungary, landgravine of Thuringia, daughter of Andrew II., king of Hungary, born in Presburg in 1207, died in Marburg, Germany, Nov. 19, 1231. At four years of age she was betrothed to Louis, the eldest son of Hermann, landgrave of Thuringia, and according to the custom of the age was transferred to the household of her future husband, to be educated for her expected rank. The nuptials were celebrated when she had reached her 14thyear; and continuing the religious practices for which she had early been remarkable, she enlisted the aid of her husband in the charitable works which engrossed her time. Louis joined the sixth crusade, but died before reaching the Holy Land, and his death at once changed the circumstances of the landgravine. Her infant son, Hermann, was declared incapable of succeeding to his lather's rule; a party was organized in behalf of Henry, brother of the late landgrave; the castle was seized, and Elizabeth with her three children was turned out of her home without provision, money, or a change of raiment.
After living some time in great destitution, subsisting now by charity and now by spinning, she was sheltered by her aunt the abbess of Kitzingen, until a more suitable asylum was found in a castle offered for her use by her uncle the bishop of Bamberg. At the intercession of the friends of the deceased landgrave, Henry recalled her to the Wart-burg, and acknowledged the rights of her son; but afterward, in Order to live in religious seclusion, and give herself wholly to works of charity, she took up her abode at Marburg in Hesse, where she spent the remaining three years of her life. She wore beneath her garment the haircloth of St. Francis, bound herself to obey the orders of her confessor, dismissed her favorite maids when she found herself loving them too well, devoted her liberal allowance entirely to the poor, and supported herself by spinning; she ministered to the most loathsome diseases, and even received lepers into her house. Her confessor, Conrad the legate, in compliance with her own wishes, subjected her to unusual penances. She was buried with great pomp in the chapel near the hospital which she had founded in Marburg, and the report of the frequent miracles wrought at her tomb induced Gregory IX. in 1235 to add her name to the list of saints.
Her shrine was for ages one of the most famous of Europe, and the altar steps before it are worn hollow by the knees of pilgrims. Her life has been written by many authors, Catholic and Protestant, in many languages. No fewer than 38 published works and 13 MSS. relating her story are catalogued by Count de Montalembert, whose biography was translated by Mary Hackett (New York, 1854). The best Protestant life of St. Elizabeth is that of Justi (Zurich, 1797; new ed., Marburg, 1835). Her husband Louis IV. was also canonized, and their lives have been written together by Simon (Frankfort, 1854).