St Elizabeth of Portugal

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St Elizabeth was forced into an arranged marriage with Denis, King of Portugal, when she was only twelve, in 1283. They had two children. Denis was not a good husband or father, but he let Elizabeth get on with her life, and she made the best of her situation. She built hospitals, hostels for travellers, a home for retired prostitutes and an orphanage. She spent her days caring for the sick. When Denis became ill he apologised to her for all his cruelties and she nursed him until his death.

Elizabeth became a Franciscan tertiary after she was widowed, and lived modestly with the Poor Clares at Coimbra often serving the community at table.

She spent her last years seeking peace among the fierce rulers of Iberia. When her son King Alphonso was about to go to war with her son-in-law, the King of Castile, she managed to negotiate peace between them.

She died on this day in 1336. Many miracles were attributed to her. She was canonised in 1625.

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