Who was St. Elizabeth of the Trinity?
There are some saints who, on the outside, do not appear especially remarkable; they are not like Catherine of Sienna guiding a pope back to Rome; or Joan of Arc leading an army into battle. By all outward appearances, they don’t seem to do anything terribly extraordinary. Yet despite this, despite their very simple and sometimes very short lives, they are declared saints because, although their acts were not in themselves extraordinary by some standards, their love was.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity was such a saint. Testifying God’s greatness from the start in her quiet way, she was born on Sunday, July 18th, 1880, despite the doctors telling her mother that her heart had stopped beating while still in the womb.
As Elizabeth grew into womanhood, she began to desire the life of a Carmelite. Despite her mother’s initial opposition to this dream and the many marriage proposals she received, she did enter the Dijon Carmel on the second of August, 1901 at the age of 21.
In 1905, she began to suffer extreme fatigue, the beginning of an illness that would claim her life. Despite her sufferings, she did not grow despondent but rather expressed the desire to be consecrated “a host of praise to the glory of God.”
As her disease ate away at her and tempted her with despair, she would rekindle that fire of love in her soul and offer herself alongside her crucified spouse for the salvation of souls. On November 9, 1906, her desire to be united with her divine spouse was finally fulfilled.
Excerpts from St. Elizabeth’s Writings
“As long as our will has fancies that are foreign to divine union, whims that are now yes, now no, we are like children; we do not advance with giant steps in love for fire has not yet burnt up all the alloy; the gold is not pure; we are still seeking ourselves; God has not consumed all our hostility toward Him.”
“Master, may my life be a continual prayer. May nothing, you see, be able to distract me from you, neither my occupations, nor pleasures, nor suffering. May I be absorbed in you, may I do everything under your gaze. Master, take me, take me completely. In five days, Marie-Louise will leave everything for you, I will give her to you, thanking you in the midst of my tears for having chosen us both to be your wives. “I wish I could, like her, say goodbye to those I love so tenderly, and also leave everything for you. But the time has not come for your will to be done. Holy will of my God, always be mine! Ah, at least, in the world I can belong to you; yes, I am yours. Take me, take my will, take all my being. May Elisabeth disappear, that only Jesus remains.”
Why I like St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
I, for one, have always struggled to relate to saints who practiced incredible penance and were able to leave loved ones with seemingly perfect detachment. It just seemed so impossible to follow in their footsteps. But Elizabeth of the Trinity is easy for me to relate to, and her simple path to sainthood is far less intimidating.
While I am a married woman with little children and not a Carmelite nun, and my day-to-day will certainly look vastly different than Elizabeth’s, I can still aim to imitate her motto—to praise the Holy Trinity. It was said that “she gave a thousand times in one go. For her, nothing was trivial. She put something great in everything. And that was why she gave so much.” I find that really inspiring. Even though I live a simple life devoted to caring for my family, I can still do what Elizabeth did and perform those tiny everyday tasks with great love for God, making my way up the ladder to heaven.
(n.d.). Une longue attente. Desire of Carmel. https://www.elisabeth-dijon.org/en/desir-du-carmel-3.html