A Basket of Bread and Roses

By Amanda Pizzolatto (Rated G)

Elizabeth filled her basket with whatever bread she could find. She just hoped she wouldn’t be seen by members of the court. While her husband shared her desire and passion for helping the poor, she knew his family complained constantly about her works of mercy. They were already spreading rumors that she was stealing from them to take care of the poor. Though Elizabeth did have to admit to herself, she did think her in-laws had one necklace too many, among other things. But that thought would be put aside for another time; right now, she had to get this food to the poor and to get back to the castle before her husband and his hunting party returned. They were having a party that night. She placed some cloth over the basket and left the castle.

She walked towards the town, taking a shortcut through the woods. She didn’t hear or see any horses. So far so good. However, she had only walked a few more feet before the sounds of the party reached her ears. The hunting party showed up mere minutes later, bringing itself to a full stop inches from where she stood.

Ludwig, her husband, was at the front of the party, and recognized her instantly. “Why, Elizabeth, what are you doing out here?”

His brother, Heinrich, scoffed. “Stealing from you, brother, and giving your treasures to the filthy poor, that’s what.”

Ludwig shot his brother a cold stare. “The poor could do with a few treasures, brother; we have more than enough.”

“Then what is in that basket?” asked one of Ludwig’s fellow hunters.

“She wouldn’t cover it if she wasn’t stealing from you,” sneered another.

Ludwig got down from his horse and walked to his wife. “My dear, may I show these men the contents of your basket to, ah, allay their fears?”

Elizabeth merely nodded. “Yes, my love.”

Ludwig leaned in and kissed her cheek. He reached down and flung off the blanket, revealing dozens of lush roses. His party murmured, mostly with relief. One berated Heinrich.

“She was stealing from Ludwig, eh? At this rate, one shouldn’t wonder if you were a real thief, as quickly as you accuse her.”

Heinrich let out a growl and turned an icy stare at Elizabeth, but otherwise kept his tongue. Elizabeth only returned the look with a warm smile. Heinrich might be stingy and perhaps a little too overprotective of his family’s wealth, but he was no thief, no more than she was.

Ludwig covered the basket again. “Shall I escort you to your destination, my dear?”

She shook her head, smiling with admiration in her eyes. “I will be fine. I will not be long. We still have our party tonight.”

“That we do.” He kissed her, but before he pulled back, she heard him whisper, “Lord, protect my wife.” He squeezed her hand, then got back on his horse. “I shall see you upon your return. Come gentlemen. Hiya!” The men rode on towards the castle and Elizabeth continued towards the village. She came across the first beggar right at the edge of the village and quickly pulled the blanket off. She smiled – the roses were once again bread. She pulled out a loaf and handed it to the beggar.

“Thank you, my princess.”

She smiled. “My pleasure.” She patted his shoulder before going further into the town. She distributed the bread quickly. Soon she was on her way back to the castle. But it was one of several clues to the fact that she was a saint.

Another legend states that one time, Elizabeth brought a leper into her room and laid him on the bed she and Ludwig shared. Ludwig’s mother found out about it and was furious. She sought out her son and told him about the leper. The two went to his room. Ludwig opened the canopy, but did not see the leper. There, on his bed, was the crucified Christ. The vision vanished after a moment, leaving both Ludwig stunned.

Elizabeth continued with her charity towards the poor, her husband continuing to support her until he died. The two had been married for only six years and had three lovely children. But the children were to stay with their father’s family while Elizabeth spent the last four years of her life as a kind of nun, more a tertiary, for while she took vows like a nun, she did not live in a convent like one. It was a long held belief that her confessor was far too harsh on her, but she followed his directions without question. That, along with her generosity, her love of God and the poor, her kindness, and those miracles led the Pope down the path of canonization. In May of 1235, Pope Gregory IX formally canonized her as a saint, and people have been asking for her prayers ever since.

Oh blessed Elizabeth, shining example of generosity and kindness, speak to the Lord on our behalf. May we listen to His will and one day, join you both in Heaven.

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