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St. Elizabeth of Hungary & The Litany of Humility: A Powerful Combination

Nov 15, 2017 By Ashley Osmera

St. Elizabeth of Hungary is my patron saint. (My middle name is Elizabeth.) As I’ve gotten older, and especially in recent years, I’ve become increasingly fascinated by this queen-saint from the Middle Ages. She managed to cram what seems like a century’s worth of prayer, drama, and service into 24 short years!

St. Elizabeth: Patroness of widows, the poor, the ridiculed, and in-law problems

Elizabeth was born into Hungarian royalty in 1207. At age four she was betrothed to Ludwig, the future king of Thuringia. Although surrounded by the extravagance of the court, she quickly became a young woman of prayer and service: even on her wedding day at the age of fourteen she asked that a portion of the funds meant for the celebration be given to the poor.

A Young St. Elizabeth of Hungary "The Young St. Elizabeth" by Charles Allston Collins. Elizabeth would arrive at the church early in the morning to pray before the priest had even unlocked the door

Ludwig was supportive of his young wife’s generosity, but his family was not so understanding. They, along with others in the court, found Elizabeth’s frequent visits to the poor and distribution of food and supplies unseemly and uncivilized for a queen.

When Ludwig died in a war in 1227, Elizabeth was devastated. Her in-laws responded to this event by kicking her and her three young children out of the castle and replacing Elizabeth with her brother-in-law as ruler.

She was then forced to wander as a vagabond for some time, earning money to support herself and her family.

Eventually, a few loyal relatives, who saw her brother-in-law’s rule as invalid, came to her aid, and helped her raise enough funds to support herself in a small family castle. She promptly and unsurprisingly turned it into a hospital for the poor, whom she served tirelessly for three years until her death in 1231.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary Quote

Even though she was a woman of great holiness, Elizabeth was still human. I can only imagine the humiliation which she experienced from the public and private reproach she received from the family she married into! She is truly an incredible example of patience, surrender, and humility.

In light of this beautiful testimony, I’d like to share a very powerful litany that makes my heart cringe and stretch and groan and grow all at the same time. It’s called the Litany of Humility.

The Litany of Humility

By Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

 

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus.

From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus.

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. Amen.

Liturgical Connections

I don’t know about you, but even now as I pray it, my humanity still screams “RUN AWAY!” when I choose to pray this litany. And yet, from years of experience praying it, I know that the fruits of remaining and praying for the grace to live with a humble attitude far outweighs the pain of purifying my weak and prideful body, mind, and soul.

St. Elizabeth's feast day and this litany come at a providential time in the liturgical year: her feast day (November 17) come just before the feast of Christ the King, the end of the liturgical year, and Advent, which begins the next cycle. During this time we look with frankness and hope toward the reality of our death and our return to humble dust, and we await the coming of the King of Heaven as a tiny babe in a dusty cave.

I pray that reflecting on the life of St. Elizabeth and praying the Litany of Humility will serve as a fitting preparation for you, as we end this liturgical year and begin the next.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine.

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: Patroness of the Poor, Widows, Charitable Works, and In-Law Problems

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Commentary by

Ashley Osmera Ashley Osmera

Ashley grew up in Charlotte, NC and found her way back there in adulthood. She graduated from Belmont Abbey College with a degree in Psychology, and hopes to pursue a degree in Counseling at the graduate level. Ashley enjoys reading, being outdoors, and all of the fine arts, including writing, art, theatre, ballroom dance, and music. Her favorite devotion is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and she also has a newfound love for St. John Paul II and Mary Undoer of Knots. Ashley has written digital content for a variety of religious and secular institutions.

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