THE LEGEND OF SAINT ELIZABETH
By Lara Vujkovac and Neža Ferlinc
While walking the streets of Slovenj Gradec, you have surely noticed the church on Liberty square. You might even know that it’s named after saint Elizabeth. But not many people know the story behind it…
LIFE OF SAINT ELIZABETH
Elizabeth of Hungary (also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia) was born in 1207 to the king of Hungary Andrew II and his wife Gertrude of Merania. Since she was born she had many responsibilities, that came with being a royal. When Elizabeth turned 14, her father arranged for her to be married to Ludwig IV of Thuringia, a German nobleman. She married him in 1221 and she deeply loved him. Together the couple had 3 beautiful children. Elizabeth lived a life full of prayer and service to the poor. She had all of her husband’s support and began to lead an austerely simple life, practiced penance and devoted herself to works of charity. She used her royal position to advance her mission for charity, even though not everybody was supportive. In 1226 when disease and floods struck Thuringia, Elizabeth took a great part to caring for victims. It is said she even gave away the family royal clothing and goods to the afflicted people. Elizabeth had a hospital built and provided for almost a thousand poor people a day. We should mention that she built a hospital Sveti duh (Holy Spirit) in Slovenj Gradec. Her life was full of love and faith, however, the tragedy struck when Ludwig passed away from illness in 1227. When she heard the news, she said, “He is dead. He is dead. It is to me, as if the whole world died today.” Elizabeth vowed to never remarry and to live a life like a nun, despite pressure from her relatives. She mostly put all her devotion to God and her charitable labour. She passed away in 1231 in Marburg.
THE MIRACLE OF ROSES
It’s known as one of her greatest miracles. It is said that during one of her many trips delivering bread to the poor in secret, Ludwig met with her and asked her questions to erase everyone’s suspicions that she was stealing goods from the castle. He asked her to reveal the contents under her cloak and as she produced a vision of white and red roses. To Ludwig, this meant the evidence God’s protection.
THE LEGEND OF SLOVENJ GRADEC
Once upon a time there was a deep lake and on each side of there were two castles, the first one was on Gradišče and the second on Saint Pakracij, each was filled with royals. In one castle lived a princess- her name was Elizabeth- and in the other lived a prince. They were in love; despite the fact it was forbidden. Every night they met in the middle of the lake. One night there was a huge storm, but they decided to meet anyway. As the princess was rowing, a big whirlpool caught and swallowed her. The prince was waiting for her, but she never showed up. He was confused and didn’t know what to do. The princess’s father searched for his daughter everywhere. In the end the lover of the princess finally told him they were supposed to meet in the middle of the lake. The king then quickly realised she had probably drowned, so he did everything in his power to find his beloved daughter’s body. He even dugged the hill between Rahtel and Legen and by doing that he dried up the lake. When they finally found her lifeless body lying on the bottom of the lake, the devastated father built a church at that same place where he found her. The church is now called the church of Saint Elizabeth. Around the church slowly grew a lovely city, which we now call Slovenj Gradec.