From Cinderella to Sara Crewe, stories of princesses colored my childhood. I was enchanted by their sparkling tiaras and twirling gowns, fascinated by their adventures, and inspired by their examples of kindness, honor, and generosity. Not all princess stories offer the same value, I readily admit, but to me, the good far outweighed the bad. In my imagination, princesses were beautiful, strong, brave, and kind.
It was no surprise, then, that the page I remember best from my first Saints book is the page that depicted Saint Elizabeth of Hungary. She was elegantly dressed in a blue veil with a gold tiara balanced over it, a serene expression on her face. Loaves of bread, which she was passing out to the poor, filled her arms. She was a princess, I learned on the opposing page, which quickly made her my six-year-old self’s favorite Saint.
Saints Who Were Princesses
Now that I have a daughter, I know my days of sharing princess tales are not far away. While I eagerly look forward to sharing many of the stories I loved as a little girl, I would love to share the lives of the many real-life princess Saints with her alongside them.
Here are just a few princess Saints to know, learn from, and be inspired by.
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary
Despite her royal birth, Saint Elizabeth demonstrated holiness and a preference for a life of simplicity from an early age. At 14, she was married to a nobleman, Ludwig of Thuringia. Although the marriage had been arranged for a decade at that point, she sincerely loved him.
The marriage was a happy one, and the couple had three children. Ludwig is said to have fully supported Elizabeth’s generous and charitable way of life. She was well-known and beloved for distributing bread to hundreds of the poor daily (the reason she is now the patron Saint of bakers!) and caring for lepers.
During their marriage, two miracles took place between Elizabeth and Ludwig. The first was when he approached her while she was distributing bread in order to quell any public suspicions that she was stealing from the palace to give to the poor. When he asked her to reveal what was in her cloak, he saw a vision of red and white roses pouring out of it.
The other miracle occurred when Elizabeth’s mother-in-law was appalled to find that Elizabeth had laid a leper she was caring for in her and Ludwig’s bed. When Ludwig found out and went to see for himself, he pulled back the blanket to see a vision of Christ on the Cross.
Following her husband’s tragic death during the Crusades, Elizabeth left the royal court and embraced a life of poverty, chastity, and penance. She died at the young age of 24.
Saint Margaret of Scotland
The daughter of a prince and princess, Saint Margaret grew up in the English court while her great-uncle was king of England. In 1066, Margaret’s family fled from William the Conqueror and were shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland. King Malcolm befriended them and quickly fell in love with the beautiful and holy princess.
Margaret was a caring wife, a devoted mother and catechist to their eight children, an active queen, and a devout Catholic. She slept very little, spending her days tending to her family, the poor, and affairs of the country, and her nights in prayer.
Saint Jadwiga of Poland
Saint Jadwiga was the third daughter of King Louis of Hungary and Poland. After his death (as well as the death of the oldest daughter), the middle daughter was chosen as queen of Hungary and Jadwiga was named queen of Poland. She was only nine years old.
At 12, she married Jagiellon, the duke of Lithuania, and a pagan who converted before their marriage. In discernment, Jadwiga spent hours before the crucifix in Krakow’s Wawel Cathedral. Jesus spoke to her from that cross, saying, “Do what you see.”
Jadwiga and Jagiellon spent much of their marriage defending Poland and Lithuania from the Teutonic Knights. She was passionate about promoting religious formation and education—so much so that she funded the restoration of what is now known as Jagiellonian University in Krakow, one of the oldest surviving universities in the world. Perhaps its most famous alum, Pope Saint John Paul II, canonized Saint Jadwiga in 1997.
Not only was Saint Adelaide a princess, but she is also now the patron Saint of princesses! Her life was filled with the drama of royal politics. She was married to the king of Italy at 15. Three years later, the king was poisoned by his successor, who then insisted that Adelaide marry his son. She refused and fled but was caught and thrown in prison. About four months later, she escaped to Northern Italy and implored Otto of Germany for help. He, in turn, conquered Italy and then asked for her hand in marriage.
Otto and Adelaide reined for 20 years before he passed away. Within a few years, her daughter-in-law tried to turn her son, the new king, against Adelaide, and she was driven from court. Back in her home country of Burgundy, where she went to live with her brother, she dedicated herself to founding and restoring religious houses and evangelizing to the Slavic people.
She ultimately reconciled with her son, and after his death, she returned to Italy as regent until her grandson came of age.
Throughout her fascinating life, Adelaide remained close to God. Even though she was the most powerful woman in the world as Empress of the Roman Empire, she remained humble and dedicated to the service of Christ.
Saint Dymphna’s story was passed down from her lifetime in the seventh century through oral tradition, with the first records appearing some-500 years later. Born into Irish royalty, her mother was a Christian and her father was a pagan. Dymphna was baptized, raised Christian, and made a vow of chastity.
After her mother’s death, her father went mad with grief. Seeing his late wife in his daughter, he tried to force Dymphna to marry him. Appalled, she refused and fled, along with her confessor, the now-Saint Gerebran. They sought refuge in Geel, Belgium, where Dymphna spent her time and wealth serving the poor.
The king ultimately tracked them down. After Dymphna continued to refuse him, he had Saint Gerebran killed and cut off Dymphna’s head himself. Legend has it that that evening, a group of mentally ill people slept in the place where she had been murdered and woke up miraculously cured. Ever since, even to this day, the city of Geel has been a site of pilgrimage and care for the mentally ill.
Worshipping the King of Kings
These five examples merely scratch the surface of the many royal Saints throughout history.
May their lives inspire us to embrace our own identities as daughters of the King of Kings!
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