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Saint Elizabeth
Statue of Saint Elizabeth in the parish church of Memmelsdorf near Bamberg, Franconia in northern Bavaria (Germany)
Born 1st century BC
Died 1st century AD
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Church
Lutheran Church
Islam (honoured)
Canonized Pre-Congregation
Feast November 5
Patronage pregnant women
diocese of Fulda, Germany
Saint Elisabeth redirects here. For other saints of this name, see Elizabeth (given name).

Saint Elizabeth, also spelled Elisabeth or Elisheva (Hebrew אֱלִישֶׁבַע / אֱלִישָׁבַע "My God is an oath", Standard Hebrew Elišévaʿ ~ Elišávaʿ, Tiberian Hebrew ʾĔlîšéḇaʿ ~ ʾĔlîšāḇaʿ) was the mother of St. John the Baptist and the wife of St. Zachary/Zacharias, according to the Gospel of Luke and the Quran. She is also known by the variants of her first name, such as Isabel, Isabella, Isabelle, etc.

Relation to Mary

No one really knows that much about St. Elizabeth. In Luke 1:36 (Kings James Version) of the Bible Elizabeth is described as a relative of Mary. The Greek word used is συγγενίς, which can refer to various forms of kinship.[1] According to the Catholic Encyclopedia their relation is given by St. Hippolytus, according to whom they are cousins; the mother of Elizabeth, Sobe and the mother of Mary, Saint Anne are sisters [2]. The mother of Mary is also known from another source, the infancy Gospel of James.

Some translations of this verse states their relations as relative [3] [4] , kinswoman [5] or 'of your family' [6] , others such as the King James, states that they are cousins. [7]

The Islamic tradition holds that Elizabeth was sister of Anne and thus aunt of Mary.[8]

In The Bible

According to the Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron the priest (Luke 1:5). She and her husband Zechariah were "righteous before God, living blamelessly" (1:6), but childless. Zechariah was visited by the angel Gabriel, who told him his wife would have a son who "will be great in the sight of the Lord" (1:15).

The pregnant Elizabeth received a visit from her relative, Mary (1:36), who was pregnant with Jesus:

And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb.
And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and she cried out with a loud voice:
"Blessed are thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." (1:41-42)

When Mary heard this she recited the Magnificat. This event is called the Visitation.

Elizabeth is not mentioned in the Christian Bible outside of the Gospel of Luke, but she is mentioned in several books of the Apocrypha, most prominently in the Protevangelion of James, in which the birth of her son and the subsequent murder of her husband are chronicled.


Elizabeth is revered as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church on November 5, and in the Orthodox and Anglican traditions on September 5, on the same day with her husband St. Zachary/Zechariah. She is commemorated as a matriarch in the Calendar of Saints (September 5) of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod and Zechariah is commemorated as a prophet.

See also

  • Visitation (Christian)

Notes and references

  1. Henry George Liddell; and Robert Scott (1940). A Greek-English Lexicon. revised by Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie. Oxford: Clarendon Press. pp. s.v. συγγενίς, συγγενής. ISBN 0-19-864226-1. 
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia
  3. Good News Bible, (Today's English Version) American Bible Society
  4. World English Bible
  5. American Standard Version, 1901
  6. Bible in Basic English
  7. King James
  8. Da Costa, Yusuf (2002). The Honor of Women in Islam. ISCA. ISBN 1930409060. 
Mary visits Elizabeth
Life of Jesus: The Nativity
Preceded by
Gabriel announces Mary's
motherhood to Jesus
  New Testament 
Followed by
Birth of Jesus: The Nativity

ar:إليصابات bg:Елисавета (Библия) ca:Elisabet cs:Alžběta (matka Jana Křtitele) et:Eliisabet eo:Elizabeto (patrino de Johano la Baptisto) fa:الیصابات gl:Isabel#Relixión ko:엘리사벳 id:Elisabet li:Elisabeth (biebel) pt:Isabel (Bíblia) ru:Праведная Елизавета sv:Elisabet (biblisk person) uk:Свята Єлисавета zh:以利沙伯