Saint Elizabeth of Portugal Statue — St. Joseph Church, Clarksburg

In the left rear corner of the church is an apparently old statue which may be Saint Elizabeth of Portugal (also known as Saint Isabel in Portugal), or her aunt, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

Since this church was founded by Portuguese immigrants, this is likely the former.  Saint Elizabeth of Portugal lived from 1271 to 1336 and was very devout from a young age attending daily Mass, reciting the Divine Office, as well as doing fasting and penance.  She was married to King Denis of Portugal at a very young age and she continued her pious ways during marriage; while also being a great peacemaker who reportedly helped settle many disputes, big and small – between Kings and countries.   Saint Elizabeth was very fond of, and charitable to the poor throughout her life.  After the death of her husband King, she immediately gave up the royal life and retired to a monastery of the Poor Clare nuns and joined the Third Order of St. Francis, devoting the rest of her life to the poor and sick in obscurity.  Saint Elizabeth of Portugal was canonized in May 25, 1625 by Pope Urban VII – her feast day is celebrated on July 8th.

Both Saint Elizabeth of Portugal and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary are associated with the “miracle of the roses” in which roses demonstrate an activity of God.  In the case of Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, legend has it that she was delivering food to the poor against her King-husband’s wishes.  One day, when she was caught by her husband carrying bread to the poor in her apron, the bread turned to roses.  Since it was January and no roses could be found in nature, the shocked King let his wife continue in the practice of feeding the poor.

The rendition of Saint Elizabeth in the church wears a royal golden crown and is dressed in a white gown with gold enhancements covered by a sky-blue robe.  The Saint holds a splay of roses in her robe associating her with the miracle of the roses.

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