St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
By Jean M. Heimann
November 8 is the feast of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a French discalced Carmelite nun, a mystic, a spiritual director, and a spiritual writer. She is the patron saint of sick people and of the loss of parents.
Elizabeth was born on July 18, 1880 in a military camp in the diocese of Bourges, France to Captain Joseph Catez and Marie Catez. Her father died when she was just seven, leaving her mother to raise Elizabeth and her sister.
Elizabeth was a determined, energetic, and popular young lady. She had a great love for God, and practiced a beautiful, but simple prayer life. At the same time, she had a bad temper as a child. However, this changed when she made her First Holy Communion just prior to her eleventh birthday. Thereafter, she eventually developed self-discipline and attained a deeper knowledge of God. She grew in her love for God and acquired an intense awareness of the Holy Trinity.
Elizabeth was blessed with many gifts. She was a talented pianist and had a flair for making friends, participating in a very active social life. At the same time, she never abandoned those who were in most need of her abilities. She sang in the choir, visited the sick, and taught catechism to children.
On August 2, 1901, Elizabeth entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Dijon, France at the age of twenty-one. At Carmel, she experienced periods of great spiritual growth, but also times of darkness. Elizabeth found much inspiration in the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux, especially her “Offering to Merciful Love,” a prayer found in Story of a Soul. She took her final vows at age twenty-three and became a spiritual director for many, leaving behind a legacy of letters and retreat guides.
She died on November 9, 1906, at the age of twenty-six from Addison’s disease, a hormone disorder characterized by anemia, great pain, and severe weakness. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 25, 1984 and canonized by Pope Francis on October 16, 2016.
Her writings consist primarily of transcriptions and summaries on her private retreats, prayers, and letters to her family and friends. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every Christian was the central focus which inspired her life and spirituality.
Her name, “Elizabeth,” which literally means “House of God,” captured her strong belief in the indwelling of the Blessed Trinity, which is found in the silence of contemplative prayer and transforms the one who prays into a “Praise of Glory” (Eph. 1:6, 12). Her unique spirituality is reflected is reflected in her writings. Elizabeth is well-known for her writings on the Trinity and for her prayer “Holy Trinity, Whom I Adore”.
“I have found heaven on earth, since heaven is God, and God is in my soul. My mission in heaven will be to draw souls, helping them to go out of themselves to cling to God, with a spontaneous, love-filled action, and to keep them in that great interior silence which enables God to make his mark on them, to transform them into himself.”(Letter 122)
“A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him.”
“I can’t find words to express my happiness. Here there is no longer anything but God. He is All; He suffices and we live by Him alone.” (Letter 91)
“O Eternal Word, Word of my God. I want to spend my life in listening to you, to become wholly teachable that I may learn all from you. Then, through all nights, all voids, all helplessness, I want to gaze on you always and remain in your great light . . . O my Three, my all, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Bury yourself in me that I may bury myself in you until I depart to contemplate in your light the abyss of your greatness.” (excerpted from her Act of Oblation)
~ St. Elizabeth of the Trinity