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 Saint Elizabeth (Mother of John the Baptist)

Born: 1st Century B.C. in Hebron

Died: 1st Century B.C. (or early A.D.) probably in Hebron

Venerated: Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church; Oriental Orthodox Church; Anglican Church; Lutheran Church; Islam

Canonized: Pre-Congregation

Feast Day: November 5 (Roman Catholic; Lutheran); September 5 (Eastern Orthodox, Anglican)

Patronage: Pregnant Women

The name Elizabeth, in Hebrew, means "worshipper of God."  All that we know of Elizabeth, wife of Zachariah and mother of John the Baptist, is to be found in the book of Luke.

A descendant of the priestly line of Aaron, she was a kinswoman (how close we are not told) of the Virgin Mary.  According to the Gospel, Elizabeth had lived a blameless life with her husband in one of the hill towns of Judea.  Having reached an advanced age with her prayers for a son unanswered, she thought that her barrenness was a punishment.  One day while Zachariah was serving in the Temple, the Angel Gabriel appeared at the right of the altar and announced that  a son would be born to Elizabeth.  Zachariah doubted what the Angel Gabriel had told him and was; therefore, struck dumb (unable to speak).

It was in the sixth month of her pregnancy that the Virgin Mary came to visit her - a touching and beautiful scene pictured by many great artists.

The Angel Gabriel, having recently announced to Mary the destiny that awaited her, also told her that Elizabeth was with child.  The Virgin Mary, eager to share in Elizabeth's happiness and to confide that she (Mary), too, would bear a child, traveled down the dusty road from Nazareth.  

On Mary's arrival, she was amazed when Elizabeth, having foreseen knowledge, greeted her as "mother of my Lord."  Elizabeth's greeting was in these words: "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, 'Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."  (Luke 1:41-45)

The Gospel story tells us further that at Elizabeth's delivery her friends and neighbors rejoiced with her and when the child was brought to be circumcised, they were going to call him after his father, Zachariah, but his mother said, "His name shall be John."  When Zachariah agreed with the child's name, Zachariah's speech returned.

*Saint Elizabeth is a scriptural Saint; mother of John the Baptist.