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.” ―Luke 1:41–42
The heartwarming narratives of Elizabeth can be found in the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. Elizabeth was a good and devout woman who had suffered many years of sad barrenness. One day, the archangel Gabriel appeared to her husband, Zechariah, and declared that Elizabeth would soon conceive and bear a son of tremendous virtue. Not long after this proclamation, Elizabeth did indeed conceive and quietly kept homebound for five months, praising God for the beautiful gift of new life.
At Elizabeth’s sixth month of expectancy, the archangel Gabriel appeared again, this time to Elizabeth’s relative Mary. Gabriel announced to Mary the forthcoming birth of Jesus and let her know of Elizabeth’s upcoming joy as well. Mary, full of amazement, journeyed to the hill country of Judea to visit her elderly kinswoman. As Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, she felt a profound quickening within her womb. She immediately knew from this reaction of her unborn son that she was in the presence of greatness―that Mary’s babe was to be a man of vast love and divine influence. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth spoke words that would one day become known as the second line of the beautiful prayer, Hail Mary: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
After a three-month-long visit from Mary, Elizabeth gave birth to her son. All neighbors and relatives were delighted over her wondrous blessing. However, they were confused over the chosen name of John, wondering why Elizabeth would not name her son after her husband, Zechariah. Zechariah, who had been struck dumb over his disbelief at Gabriel’s earlier announcement, confirmed the name of John by writing on a tablet. At that moment of agreement, he regained his voice. The neighbors were astonished at such extraordinary events surrounding Elizabeth’s child.
Elizabeth shares the Sept. 23 feast day with her husband, Zechariah (older books might have their feast as Nov. 5). In addition, Elizabeth shares a feast day with Mary on May 31 to honor the three-month visit from Mary.
A Five-Day Retreat with St. Elizabeth
Though not mentioned a great deal in the Bible and only in one Gospel, the few passages listed below can give us much insight on the role of St. Elizabeth in salvation history. Ready, study, and ponder these passages—see how St. Elizabeth’s example might bring you closer to the Lord.
- Day 1) Luke 1:5–20
- Day 2) Luke 1:21–25
- Day 3) Luke 1:39–45
- Day 4) Luke 1:56–66
- Day 5) Luke 1:80