Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Saint Elizabeth

Today we honor the feast day of Elizabeth of Hungary, 1207-1231. A benefit of finishing one's school work early at St. Phillip's Catholic Grammar School in Pasadena, CA was the privilege of choosing & reading one of the many books on the lives of the saints that were located in the back of the classroom. (Where was Harry Potter when I needed him?)

I recall reading about Elizabeth of Hungary and thinking that here was yet another female saint I would never be able to live up to - she wasn't one of the virgin variety but was an actual princess who wed at 14, had 3 children, and devoted her very short life (she died at 24) to Piety with a capital P while caring for the sick and the poor. Most depictions of her (i.e. holy cards such as the one on the right which I believe was stashed inside my Missal) show her holding bread and/or roses.

So why am I talking about her? Because David and I were married at the exquisitely beautiful St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in Altadena, California in June, 1979. Here is a picture of the grotto - well actually this is a postcard circa 1935. This grotto was built by a Japanese artist in honor of Our Lady of Lourdes. This is where we waited for our wedding ceremony to commence on a very hot California summer day - almost 30 years ago. I was 7 months pregnant at the time and since the interior of the church was built on a downward slope I dared not enter through the back door for the traditional wedding march because I was so front-loaded that I imagined that I'd work up too much speed coming down the aisle & not be able to stop - really!

The two of us walked in together through the side door (well there were actually 3 of us at that point). No members of my family attended our wedding - that is a long story in itself - but my grandfather did "sneak" over to the grotto for a moment before the ceremony to give us his blessing. My best friend Anita and her family were there as were other friends - such as Jill, and Terre Lou - these are all women I still know and love dearly. And my dear sisters would have been there if they could have - but they were very young and had no control over their situation.
So here's to fond memories of a bittersweet day! And may we continue to love our neighbors as ourselves, especially the poor and the hungry, as dear Saint Elizabeth did...Amen

4 comments:

monica said...

I love this! It is still one of my favorite churches. The year before I moved to Oakland for graduate school at Mills, I spent a great deal of time at St. Elizabeth's being actively involved. it was one of the best times of my life. It was a great send off to the north. Who did your marriage--I mena what priest? Thank you for this.
Love,
Monica

brad said...

An unusually good one, Roberta! That's often the case when you put yourself so much into your own composition. Thank you - Brad

Ellie Finlay said...

Ah, yes. I see what you mean. You DID have a different take on Elizabeth than I did. I guess I'm lucky in that my first introduction to her was through that novel I mentioned and not through some idealized hagiography. In that book (I DO wish I could remember the name of it and who wrote it) she came across as passionate and independent and someone I could very much aspire to be like.

cheryl said...

Roberta,

I love hearing some of your story!!! Thank you so much for sharing with us! I love thinking of you so full of new life and celebrating your marriage. I wish I had known you then and been at your wedding!!

Cheryl