St. Isabella of Portugal
Feast Day: July 04
Isabella was a Spanish princess and the daughter of Constantia and King Pedro III of Aragon. She was named after her great-aunt St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Isabella was beautiful, lovable and was a model of our faith as she attended Mass every day.
When she was just twelve, she married King Denis (Diniz) of Portugal thus becoming Queen Isabella of Portugal when she was not even a teenager. She was a charming wife and her husband was fond of her at first, but soon he began to cause her great suffering. Though a good ruler, he did not have his wife’s love of prayer and virtue. In fact, his sins of impurity were frowned upon and well-known throughout his kingdom.
Isabella tried to be a loving mother to her children, Prince Alphonso and Princess Constance. She was also generous and loving with the people of Portugal and spent time helping the sick and the poor. Even though her husband was unfaithful, she prayed that God would change his heart. Isabella trusted God and refused to become bitter and angry. She strengthened her own prayer life and followed the ways of the Franciscans.
Over time, the king was moved by her patience and positive example. He began to live a moral life and publicly apologized to his wife, showing her greater respect. During a final illness the queen never left his side, except to attend Mass. King Denis died on January 6, 1325.
He was very sorry for his sins and his death was peaceful. This gentle woman was also a pioneering peacemaker between members of her own family and between nations. History cites how this fearless individual once rode out on to the battlefield on a mule and was able to prevent war. Her leadership and diplomacy helped to avoid bloodshed on two further occasions.
After the king died, Isabella gave her wealth to the poor and joined the lay Franciscan order. There she started the monastery of the Poor Clares, living a life of poverty, performing loving acts of charity and penance. She was a wonderful model of kindness in her care of the poor and sick.
St. Isabella of Portugal died on July 4, 1336 of a fever. After her death, many miracles took place at her tomb.
Reflection: “If you love peace, all will be well.”- St. Isabella