Suffering was part of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity’s life from a young age. Fatherless at the age of 7, her suffering increased from Addison’s disease at the end of her short life — causing her own untimely death at the age of 24 in 1906.
The young Elizabeth battled with a fierce temper, which is said to have lessened after her first Communion. She grew up in Dijon, France, near the Carmelite convent she would eventually enter.
After what turned out to be a providential visit with the mother superior of the Dijon Carmel when Elizabeth was 17, the future saint realized her vocation to contemplative prayer. The meeting took place shortly after the death of another French Carmelite saint, St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The mother superior had shown the young Elizabeth what would become published as St. Thérèse’s spiritual autobiography, “A Story of a Soul” and Elizabeth was one of the very first to reap the benefits of what would become regarded as a spiritual masterpiece. Her longing for the contemplative life was strong, yet her mother wouldn’t allow Elizabeth to enter the Carmel in Dijon until she was 21. She’d go on to live in the Carmel for only five years.
Though they never knew each other in this life, the life and writings of the new St. Elizabeth show a strong spiritual bond with St. Thérèse — evidence that they were kindred spirits. Many have commented on this, including the Swiss Jesuit theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, who authored “Two Sisters in the Spirit,” which highlights the spiritual closeness of the two French Carmelite contemplative mystics.
Also similar to St. Thérèse — who had written that she would spend her heaven doing good on earth — St. Elizabeth of the Trinity also spoke of her heavenly vocation: “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.”
Signaling her heavenly residency, the Church has approved two miracles attributed to her intercession — the first, a miraculous healing of her hometown’s bishop, Cardinal Albert Decourtray of Dijon.
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was canonized by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Oct. 16, 2016. Her feast day is Nov. 8.
Michael R. Heinlein is editor of Simply Catholic. Follow him on Twitter @HeinleinMichael.