Facts About – Rainha Santa Elizabeth

Image: Queen Elizabeth, mounted on a mule, prevents a civil war in 1323, on the field of Alvalade

Name: Rainha Santa Elizabeth

Born: 4 January 1271

Died: 4 July 1336

BIO: Saint Elizabeth of Portugal was the queen consort of Portugal, a tertiary of the Franciscan Order. She is venerated as a saint of the Catholic Church due to the rose miracle.

She was born Elizabeth of Aragon at the Aljafería Palace in Zaragoza, Spain, the daughter of King Pedro III and Constance of Sicily and the sister of three kings: Alfonso II and James II of Aragon and Frederick III of Sicily. She married King Dinis of Portugal in 1288 when she was 17.

  • The legend of the roses is associated with Elizabeth in popular Portuguese culture. Married to the profligate King Dinis, Elizabeth was charitable to the poor, against the wishes of her husband. The story goes that while delivering bread in her apron her husband caught her and told her to show him what she carried and the food was transformed into roses. This legend has also been attributed to her better-known Aunt, Elizabeth of Hungary, and is a reoccurring myth in western European culture. 
  • At her birth in 1271, her father Pedro III, future king of Aragon, was reconciled with his own father James, the reigning monarch.
  • Her marriage to Dinis was arranged when she was only ten and she was married aged 17, her dowry included the towns of Óbidos, Abrantes and Porto de Mós. Dinis is said to have been sinful and abusive towards her but her patience and devotion to religion eventually converted him and he renounced his life of sin.
  • Elizabeth bore two children: a son who became Afonso IV of Portugal and Constance of Portugal, who married King Ferdinand IV of Castile.
  • She acted as an intermediary between her husband and son during the civil war of 1322-24. Afonso greatly resented his father, whom he accused of favouring his illegitimate son. Dinis was prevented from killing his son by Elizabeth, who in 1323 mounted a mule and positioned herself between the two armies in order to prevent the combat. Peace was returned in 1324 and the illegitimate Afonso Sanchez was sent into exile, while the legitimate Afonso swore allegiance to his father.
  • Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. She earned a reputation as a peacemaker on account of her efficacy in solving disputes.
  • After Dinis’ death in 1325, Elizabeth retired to the monastery of the Poor Clare nuns in Coimbra, which she had founded in 1314. She joined the Third Order of St. Francis, devoting the rest of her life to the poor and sick in obscurity.
  • She was called upon as peacemaker for the final time in 1336 when Afonso IV marched his troops against King Alfonso XI of Castile, the son-in-law he accused of neglecting and ill-treating his daughter Maria. The queen dowager insisted on hurrying to Estremoz, where the two kings’ armies were drawn up. She again stopped the fighting and enabled terms of peace to be agreed; however, the exertion brought on her final illness. As soon as her mission was completed, she took to her bed with a fever from which she died on 4 July, in the castle of Estremoz. 
  • She was beatified in 1526 and canonized by the Pope in 1625 and her saints day is 4 July.


Share this edition