St. Elizabeth of the Trinity

“The life of a Carmelite is communion with God from morning until evening and from evening until morning. If He didn’t fill our cells and our cloister, how empty they would be!” These words were written Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, a remarkable young Saint whose life was a reflection of the Holy Trinity dwelling in her soul. She was born Elizabeth Catez on July 18, 1880, in the military camp of Arvor, near Bourges, France, to Joseph Catez, a military captain, and his wife Marie. The family moved to Dijon in 1883, shortly before their second child, Marguerite (Guite), was born. Growing up, Elizabeth displayed a passionate and fiery temperament. After her first confession at age 10, however, she devoted herself to practicing Christian virtue, eager to please her Lord, and even made a vow of virginity at age 14. From childhood, she longed to enter Carmel, but for a while her mother wouldn’t allow her to follow that dream.

Elizabeth finally entered the Dijon Carmel on August 2, 1901, and became Sister Marie-Elizabeth of the Trinity. She received the habit on December 8, 1901, and made her profession on January 11, 1903. From the beginning, she showed herself humble, forgetful of self, and virtuous to a degree that impressed her Sisters and superiors.

In order for Our Lord to communicate with her and work in her soul, Elizabeth had to be faithful in staying close to Him in prayer, even when it was difficult for her to feel His presence. She spent as much time as she could before the Blessed Sacrament, and she knew that Our Lord was always there with her as she went through her Carmelite life, practicing such virtue and charity that no one suspected it when she was going through spiritual dryness and suffering. She was so generous in offering her services to others that she sometimes took on more than she could handle!

During her five years of religious life, through good times and difficult times, Elizabeth remained a faithful spouse to her Lord. She sought to always keep her eyes on her divine Spouse, and described her relationship with Him as “living with…always with” and loving Him in everything. She wanted to be completely filled with Christ, consumed by Him, given over to Him. On the back of her profession crucifix, she engraved the following words of St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20). She also expressed her mission using the words of St. Paul: “Laudem gloriae (Praise of His glory)” and even signed some of her many letters with this as her new name. She wanted her beloved Trinity to be reflected in her and given to others, and she wrote a beautiful and profound prayer entitled, “O my God, Trinity Whom I adore”. It reveals her devotion to the Trinity, which she affectionately called “my Three”.

When illness took hold of her in 1905, Elizabeth expressed joy in suffering, and a longing for Heaven, where she would at last attain full union with her Beloved. This desire was accomplished when she died of Addison’s disease on November 9, 1906. Her last words were: “I am going to light, to love, to life.” Two weeks before her death, she had said, “I believe that in Heaven my mission will be to attract souls to interior recollection, helping them to get outside themselves in order to cling to God with a very simple and altogether loving movement, and maintaining them in that great interior silence which permits God to imprint Himself in them and to transform them into Himself.”

Canonization date: October 16, 2016

The feast day of Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity is celebrated by the Carmelite Order on November 8.