Saints Elizabeth of Portugal and Antoine Daniel

On this day we honour Elizabeth of Portugal (+1336), who lived in the turbulent time at the dawn of the fourteenth century. She was a queen, wife, mother, widow, peacemaker, and a third order Franciscan who, after her irate and troublesome husband’s death (whom she sanctified, as much as his coarser soul could take, it seems). She retreated in 1325 to a hidden life of prayer and penitence in a convent which she had founded eleven years prior, feeding the poor and tending the sick.

She twice placed herself physically between her warring family, specifically, her husband’s forces against those of his sons, and the second time was too much strain, bringing on a moribund fever. Elizabeth was immediately hailed as a saint, and canonized by Pope Urban VIII in 1625, the same Pontiff who would condemn Galileo seven or so years later, but who also sent the Jesuit missionaries to New France, which was later named, of course, Canada.  Eight of these Jesuits were future martyrs, Jean de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, but also Antoine Daniel, who happened put to be put to death on this day. Like today’s saint, he was a peacemaker in his own right, as he went forth from his chapel to place himself between his flock and the attacking Iroquois, who struck him down with bullets and arrows and threw his body into the flaming church.

Blessed are the peacemakers, indeed. All holiness consists in laying down our life for the other, one way or the other.