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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Same Inside

(Saint Elizabeth Tending the Sick in Marbourg
by the Master of the Four Saint Elizabeth Panels,
active 1490-1510 in the Netherlands)

Today is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary in the Catholic liturgical calendar. As the daughter of a Hungarian father, I took her name when I was confirmed in the Church.

Elizabeth was born in 1207, a daughter of the King of Hungary. She was devoted to the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi. She is best known in Hungary and Germany.

According to one legend, one winter day Elizabeth met her husband on the road as she was carrying a heavy load of bread to distribute to the poor. Concerned about the weight of her burden, he opened her mantle. In the dead of winter, beautiful red and white roses tumbled out of her cloak.

After her husband’s death of the plague on his way to a Crusade, Elizabeth devoted the rest of her life to helping the poor and nursing the sick, while spending her wealth to build hospitals and shelters. She died when she was only 24 years old, in 1231.


Walking to your place for a love feast
I saw at a street corner
an old beggar woman.

I took her hand,
kissed her delicate cheek,
we talked, she was
the same inside as I am,
from the same kind,
I sensed this instantly
as a dog knows by scent
another dog.

I gave her money.
I could not part from her.
After all, one needs
someone who is close.

And then I no longer knew
why I was walking to your place.

~ Anna Swir (1909-1984), Polish poet

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