St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
memorial: 8 Nov.
Elizabeth Catez was born 18th July 1880 near Bourges (France). Her sister Marguerite was born three years after. In 1887, her grandfather and her father both died and the two young children were left in the care of their mother, a very energetic and upright woman.
The young Elizabeth also had a very pronounced character, her childhood tantrums were fearsome. But at the same time, from a very early age, she tried to conquer her temperament. When her father died, the family changed house to near the Discalced Carmelite Nuns in Dijon. The sound of the bells of the convent and the nuns’ garden exercised a great attraction on Elizabeth.
The day of her first communion, 19th April 1891, was an all important one for her: she felt she no longer had hunger as Jesus had fed her. That same afternoon she went to make her first visit to Carmel and the prioress explained to her the significance of her name in Hebrew. Elizabeth means “a house of God”. This made a deep impact on the young girl, who understood the profundity of these words. From then on, she was determined to be in her life God’s dwelling place, by controlling her temperament and forgetting about herself.
Despite her lively intelligence, the young Elizabeth received a poor general education, but she was very gifted in music and obtained a first prize in piano at 13 years. Her soul was sensitive to music and nature, beautiful things which reminded her always of God, and in which she saw reflected the harmony of their creator.
Elizabeth want to be a Carmelite, but her mother forbad it until she reached 21. When reading Saint Teresa, she felt greatly in harmony with her. She understood that contemplation meant to let God act, that mortification had to be interior and that friendship is an attitude of putting other people’s interests before one’s own. She was also greatly helped by reading the Story of a Soul, by which the young Therese of Lisieux, recently deceased, inspired her by her little way of trust in God.
On 2nd August 1901, the postulant entered the Dijon Carmel and was given the name of Elizabeth of the Trinity. Mother Germaine was her prioress, her Mistress of Novices and finally became her admirer and disciple. Elizabeth lived a life that was completely ordinary, a life of faith, without revelations or ecstasies. However, this young girl immediately attracted the attention of the whole community by her faithfulness and commitment. In her turn, she submerged herself in reading and deepening her understanding of Scripture (mainly Saint Paul) and Saint John of the Cross. Under their guidance she found her own interior way and her faith matured.
Reading Saint Paul, she felt a deep call to be the Praise of the Glory of the Triune God, by living every moment of the day in constant thanksgiving. She came to be identified with this ideal, so much so, that at the end of her life she signed some letters with the name: “Laudem Gloriae”.
In Lent 1904, Elizabeth became ill and, after a painful and long sickness, she died on 9th November 1906. Her last words were, “I am going to Light, to Love, to Life”.
Her life and writings became surprisingly widespread. They consist of: her Diaries, her Letters, her Poems (they reflect her soul, but are of poor literary quality) some Prayers among which is her famous Prayer to the Trinity. There are also other writings: Heaven in Faith, which moved her to live heaven here on earth, by adoring God in faith and love, and what she wrote to her sister Marguerite, housewife and mother; The greatness of our Vocation, Last Retreat and Let yourself Love (dedicated to her prioress). She died at the age of 26 of Addison's disease on the 9th of November 1906, Dijon, France. She was beatified in Rome on 25 November 1984, by Pope John Paul II and canonized by Pope Francis on 16 October 2016.