Festa do Espirito Santo

Festa do Espirito Santo
June 25 & 26, 2011

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Story of Queen Isabel's rise to Sainthood

Feastday: July 4
Patron of the Third Order of St. Francis

Elizabeth (Isabel) was a Spanish princess who was given in marriage to King Denis of Portugal at the age of twelve in the early 12th Century. She was very beautiful, loving and a devout Catholic who attended mass daily. She was a holy wife. Her husband was fond of her at first, but he soon began to cause her great suffering. Though a good ruler, he did not imitate his wife's love of prayer and other virtues.
Queen Isabel's subjects suffered from the effects of a devastating drought followed by a long famine with thousands dying due to disease compounded by wells running dry and scarcity of food. She did all she could for her people during that time. Many artist's renderings show her holding red roses in one hand and a small loaf of bread in the other. This stems from her habit of taking bread from the palace and secretly passing it to the poor and hungry. One day the King found out about it and confronted her. When she opened her apron to reveal the stolen bread, a miracle had occurred. For instead of bread, a bunch of red roses fell to the floor. Her generosity and love for her people had been honored by God.

She arranged masses to be said continuously during a nine-day novena until the day of Pentecost when the people witnessed three ships sail up the harbor and docked in Lisbon. These ships were filled with grain. Their hunger was finally at an end. It also began to rain, after several years of drought. This was considered to be a major miracle.

Her devotion to her people was symbolized by the promise she made to the Holy Spirit that if her people were saved from famine and drought, she would lay her jeweled crown on the altar as a gift to the church.
Not only was she was generous and kind to the poor, Queen Isabel was a successful peacemaker among nations and between members of her own feudingfamily. Because Queen Isabel remained dedicated to attending daily Mass, she found strength to bear her many great crosses.

Replicas of her crown adorned with the dove, the Holy Spirit’s symbol, were made and the saintly queen began her custom of crowning and placing her cape on the poorest girl in the kingdom and poorest male beggar. This custom of crowning, and feeding the community (Soupas), still takes place today in the Azores and among Portuguese communities throughout the U.S., including the IPFES of Tracy. These Holy Ghost Celebrations are called: Festa do Divino Espirito Santo.

Queen Isabel was canonized by Pope Urban the Eighth in 1625.

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