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Home > Catholic Encyclopedia > E > St. Elizabeth of Schönau

St. Elizabeth of Schönau

Born about 1129; d. 18 June, 1165.-Feast 18 June. She was born of an obscure family, entered the double monastery of Schönau in Nassau at the age of twelve, received the Benedictine habit, made her profession in 1147, and in 1157 was superioress of the nuns under the Abbot Hildelin. After her death she was buried in the abbey church of St. Florin. When her writings were published the name of saint was added. She was never formally canonized, but in 1584 her name was entered in the Roman Martyrology and has remained there.

Given to works of piety from her youth, much afflicted with bodily and mental suffering, a zealous observer of the Rule of St. Benedict and of the regulation of her convent, and devoted to practices of mortification, Elizabeth was favoured, from 1152, with ecstasies and visions of various kinds. These generally occurred on Sundays and Holy Days at Mass or Divine Office or after hearing or reading the lives of saints. Christ, His Blessed Mother, an angel, or the special saint of the day would appear to her and instruct her; or she would see quite realistic representations of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension, or other scenes of the Old and New Testaments. What she saw and heard she put down on wax tablets. Her abbot, Hildelin, told her to relate these things to her brother Egbert (Eckebert), then priest at the church of Bonn. At first she hesitated fearing lest she be deceived or be looked upon as a deceiver; but she obeyed. Egbert (who became a monk of Schönau in 1155 and succeeded Hildelin as second abbot) put everything in writing, later arranged the material at leisure, and then published all under his sister's name.

Thus came into existence

There is a great diversity of opinion in regard to her revelations. The Church has never passed sentence upon them nor even examined them. Elizabeth herself was convinced of their supernatural character, as she states in a letter to Hildegarde; her brother held the same opinion; Trithemius considers them genuine; Eusebius Amort (De revelationibus visionibus et apparitionibus privatis regulae tutae, etc., Augsburg, 1744) holds them to be nothing more than what Elizabeth's own imagination could produce, or illusions of the devil, since in some things they disagree with history and with other revelations (Acta SS., Oct, IX, 81). A complete edition of her writings was made by F.W.E. Roth (Brunn, 1884); translations appeared in Italian (Venice, 1859), French (Tournai, 1864), and in Icelandic (1226-1254).

Sources

BUTLER, Lives of the Saints; STREBER in Kirchenlex., s.v.; HAUCK, Kirchengesch. Deutsche., IV, 244 sqq.; PREGER, Deutsche Mystik, 1, 37; Acta SS., June, IV, 499; ROTH, Das Gebetbuch der Elisabeth von Schönau.

About this page

APA citation. Mershman, F. (1909). St. Elizabeth of Schönau. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05392a.htm

MLA citation. Mershman, Francis. "St. Elizabeth of Schönau." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05392a.htm>.

Transcription. Dedicated with Love to Grandmother Elizabeth (Mary) Bennett Brown Knight.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. May 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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