A Friend Of The Martyrs
Ransomers are devout clients of the Martyrs, and as such will be particularly interested at the present time to recall one who was a patron and friend of St. John Fisher, and who must have known also St. Thomas More.
The Lady Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, the mother of Henry VII, was one of the foremost personages of her time. Though she herself had never worn the crown, she became, after her son's accession to the throne, Queen Mother in all but name. She was an outstanding example of one in the highest position in this world, whose life was of
exemplary piety and virtue. Her time was occupied in prayer and good works, and so great was her zeal for holy learning that she translated into English and had printed the Fourth Book of The Imitation of Christ in order to promote devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Attracted by the noble character, the piety and learning of John Fisher. Lady Margaret chose the young priest as her confessor. Her benefactions to the cause of learning included the endowment of the Readership in Divinity at both Universities, and Fisher was chosen as the first Lady Margaret Professor at his own Alma Mater. Cambridge, a post which he held until elected Chancellor of the University. The Lady Margaret Preacherships at the Universities were also founded by this holy lady, on the advice of Bishop Fisher: and later Christ's College, Cambridge, was refounded by her, of whose first alumni, Richard Reynolds, the Bridgettine priest, was one of the five proto-martyrs of the Reformation who died at Tyburn on May 4, 1535.
King George's Ancestor
There is a peculiar interest for us, as we look forward to the Coronation of our King, in the fact that this royal lady, the daughter of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, the grandson of John of Gaunt, is descended from Edward III; while her granddaughter, also named Margaret, the daughter of Henry VII, married lames of Scotland; so that the Lady Margaret Beaufort, the friend of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More, is a direct ancestor of our own King George the Sixth.
Another interesting link with the Saints in the case of our own Royal Family is to be found in St. Elizabeth of Hungary, canonised in 1235. St. Elizabeth is one of that wonderful quartette of saints in whom we see the culmination of the spiritual history of the thirteenth century. She was
tion of the Kingdom of Heaven already proclaimed their own: " for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven," find in these words a happiness which so many of the wealthy, uneasy with their riches and ever thirsting for more, look for in vain! the friend and follower of the Seraphic Father St. Francis; living the Franciscan life in the midst of a Court, and showing how we may sanctify ordinary human life and spiritualise all its acts.
Elizabeth, the daughter of Andrew II of Hungary, possessed from the first a marvellous spirit of prayer, and wonderful simplicity and charity. Shrinking from the pomp and ceremony of court life, she loved to minister to the needs of the poor and
suffering. She was fortunate to find in her .husband, Ludwig the Landgrave of Thuringia, one who was worthy of so saintly a bride and a model of true Christian knighthood.
Lessons for Today
The life of St. Elizabeth as a wife and mother teaches us lessons especially valuable today, when there is such need to uphold the sanctity of Christian marriage. Other saints have followed the thorny path of mortification, and have tended the poor and practised detachment from the world; but St. Elizabeth is the saint of the home life, whose love of God was reflected in her love of the husband whom God had given her; who served God by being a sweet and loving wife. The Court of Thuringia was a model of Christian virtue and charity. Ludwig founded a Benedictine Abbey at Rheinhartsbrunn, while Elizabeth welcomed the Franciscans to Eisenach, and received from St. Francis himself, as a mark of his love and sympathy, his own ragged brown mantle.
The death of Ludwig while on the Crusade led by the Emperor Frederick II, was not merely the crowning sorrow of Elizabeth's life, but the end of all her merely human happiness. The remaining short years of her life were one long act of renunciation until she died, at the age of twenty-four, in 1231. Then it was realised that Elizabeth, the soft-voiced, beautiful lady, the friend of the poor and the follower and disciple of St. Francis, was herself a saint, and in 1235 Pope Gregory IX raised her to the honours of the altar.
The special interest for us lies in the fact that we have still with us a descendant in kind of St. Elizabeth: one who is a model wife and mother, full of tender sympathy for the poor and suffering, and active in works of mercy; one who uses her great influence for good, setting an example of Christian womanhood-our own beloved Queen Mother.
We shall do well to invoke St. Elizabeth on behalf of our gracious Queen Elizabeth and her royal husband, King George VI, that by her intercessions she may help those who are called to a like onerous office.
Will the reader who is in the habit of sending the Catholic Herald to Fr. 'Adding, O.P., at Tingchow. please communicate with the Catholic Herald, 110, Fleet Street, E.C.4, as we have a letter for him.