The above photograph of a statue of St Elizabeth, Queen Consort of Portugal, was taken during a pilgrimage to the country in April last year. It stands tall outside the former monastery of Santa-Clara-a-Nova at Coimbra, where her remains lie in a tomb above the high altar.
‘O blessed Elizabeth! we praise God for thy holy works, as the Church this day invites all her sons to do. More valiant than those princes in whose midst thou didst appear as the angel of thy fatherland, thou didst exhibit in thy private life a heroism which could equal theirs, when need was, even on the battlefield. God’s grace was the motive-power of thy actions, and His glory their sole end. Often does God gain more glory by abnegations hidden from all eyes but His, than by great works justly admired by a whole people. It is because the power of His grace shines forth the more; and it is generally the way of His Providence to cause the most remarkable blessings bestowed on nations, to spring from these hidden sources. How many battles celebrated in history have first been fought and won in the sight of the Blessed Trinity, in some hidden spot of that supernatural world, where the elect are ever at war with hell, nay, struggle at times even with God Himself; how many famous treaties with peace have first been concluded between heaven and earth in the secret of a single soul, as a reward for those giant struggles which men misunderstand and despise! Let the fashion of this world pass away; and those deep-thinking politicians, who are said to rule the course of events, the proud negotiators and warriors of renown, all, when judged by the light of eternity, will appear for what they are: mere deceptions screening from the sight of men the only names truly worthy of immortality.
Glory then be to thee, through whom the Lord has deigned to lift a corner of the veil that hides from the world the true rulers of its destinies. In the golden book of the elect, thy nobility rests on better titles than those of birth. Daughter and mother of kings, thyself a queen, thou didst rule over a glorious land; but far more glorious is the family throne in heaven, where thou reignest with the first Elizabeth, with Margaret and with Hedwige, and where others will come to join thee, doing honour to the same noble blood which flowed in thy veins’.
from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger OSB, 1805-1875
O God, the author of peace and lover of charity, who didst adorn Saint Elizabeth of Portugal with a marvellous grace for reconciling those in conflict: grant, through her intercession; that we may become peacemakers, and so be called children of God; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon