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


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.

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...


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!!