We hear about St. Elizabeth around Advent and Christmas each year, but this woman, though mentioned just a few times in the Bible, models faithfulness and trust for all believers.
A Visit from an Angel
Elizabeth, the cousin of Our Lady, was married to the temple priest, Zechariah and they longed to have children. However, grew older without ever having a child (much like the women of the Old Testament). In the book of Luke, the angel Gabriel visits Zechariah when he is serving as priest, and tells him that his wife will have a child and that they should name him John. But, in a moment of doubt, Zechariah questions the angel about how that could be. Zechariah is struck mute until the day of John’s birth.
When Gabriel visited Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of Jesus, he mentions that her cousin, Elizabeth, was expecting in her old age and that “nothing is impossible with God” (to build her faith, of course!).
After this, Mary decided to visit Elizabeth and when she greeted her cousin, Elizabeth’s baby leaped in her womb. At that moment, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” We recognize Elizabeth’s response as a part of the Hail Mary today.
Elizabeth’s child grew up to be a holy, Nazirite man, St. John the Baptist, who called people to repentance, baptized them, and prepared the way for his cousin, Jesus the Messiah. St. Elizabeth’s feast day is November 5 and you can read her whole story in Luke 1 here. Also, there is a beautiful depiction of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s story in the movie, The Nativity Story, and a beautiful painting of the Visitation here. The Feast of the Visitation is on May 31.
Why a Pregnant Woman?
St. Elizabeth was the wife of Zechariah and cousin of the Virgin Mary. She and Zechariah greatly desired to have children, but she was barren for many years. When they were both advanced in age, Zechariah was visited by the angel Gabriel who told him they would have a child. Elizabeth’s child leaped in her womb when Mary came to visit her and that child grew up to be St. John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus.
Who would be friends with St. Elizabeth?
- Those struggling with infertility
- Wives of Deacons (her husband was a Jewish priest, after all!)
- Older moms
- Charismatic people
- Those who are waiting
- Mothers with strong willed children (I mean, her son was John the Baptist, right?)
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”St. Elizabeth