St. Elizabeth of Portugal was named for her great-aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary. She was born in 1271 to King Pedro III of Aragon and his wife Constantia. St. Elizabeth was always very devoted to God, spending lots of time in prayer and fasting. She was married to King Diniz of Portugal at a very young age.
King Diniz, known as the “Worker King” because of his faithful work for his country, had two children with Elizabeth, but fathered seven children with other women. His court was full of infidelity and immorality, but Elizabeth remained steadily devoted to God, and sought always to do his will.
She spent a lot of time caring for the poor and sick, inspiring the other women who served her to do the same. She was known to invite lepers in to bathe and receive clean clothes, despite a law banning them from the castle.
Elizabeth intervened between her son and his father to prevent a civil war from breaking out in 1323. She also kept her son from starting a war against the King of Castile in 1336.
After her husband died, Elizabeth became a Franciscan of the Third Order and went to live in a convent. She died in 1336, and was canonized in 1625.
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