St. Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Our Beguinnage church’s patron is St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a long ago queen who gave to the poor and with her wealth cared for the sick and dying. St. Elizabeth is a particularly appropriate choice for the patron of the Beguinnage church considering the work, outreach, apostolate work of the Beguines was just that: caring for the sick, dying and giving to the poor. In the Beguinnage church, there are still two very long narrow handcrafted and decorated benches from the 1500’s where food for the poor was placed in the Middle Ages. The poor could take from this bench. Last Thursday was the high feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Special chant antiphons and hymns are sung and of course special foods and desserts are served up from our monastery kitchen. This year, a group of priests from the Anglican church in England were here to celebrate with us. Two young priests or priests to be, decked in lace trimmed cassocks, acolyted at the mass. These cassocks of course took some of the focus of this lace maker. The priests helped us liberally and generously with the singing and it was nice to hear male voices in addition to our normal all female voice choir. At the end of one chant service, our Prioress was presented with a lovely decorated candle, a gift from the priests. I really had not seen this candle ‘up close and personal’ as they say. However, the opportunity presented itself; the candle found its way to the refectory table and today at a coffee break, I journeyed to the end of the refectory to take a closer peek. The candle is truly a work of creativity and loving art. It was handpainted, so colorful with delicate and caring brush. The Madonna and child, cherubs and flowers are all richly and lavishly painted. The artist, anonymous though he or she is, obviously loved the craft. The candle generously decorated bespeaks  of the richness and ‘overvloed‘ of God’s love. Overvloed is a wonderful word in Dutch, appearing often in the divine offices, with the rich, deep and inexhaustible meaning of the love of God. This is such a good reminder this Advent with celebration of the unspeakable gift of God’s love coming again among us.

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