Musicus Online Museum

Elisabeth insignis genere and Iam adulta nuptui

Elzyabeth insignis genere and Iam adulta nuptui (13th century?)

Elisabeth insignis genere


Iam adulta nuptui


St. Elizabeth of Hungary was one of the most widely venerated saints of the thirteenth century. The daughter of King Andrew II and Queen Gertrude of Hungary, she devoted her short life to the care of the poor and needy. Married at age 14, Elizabeth was widowed at 20, after her husband died in the Crusades. She committed her life to God, gave away her dowry, and founded a hospital for the poor dedicated to St. Francis. She worked herself to exhaustion at the hospital and died in 1231, at age 23. She was canonized four years later, on 27 May 1235. In visual culture, St. Elizabeth is frequently shown carrying a loaf of bread and a jug of wine, references to her devotion to feeding the hungry.

The two antiphons recorded here are taken from the earliest known plainchant office for St. Elizabeth, preserved in a late thirteenth-century manuscript from Cambrai in northern France. The heart of the saint was reportedly brought as a relic to Cambrai Cathedral after her death, where it was kept in a chapel for veneration. The antiphons are taken from the service of Matins performed in the middle of the night. The first (Elyzabeth insignis genere) explains that Elizabeth’s grace far surpassed her royal birth. The second (Iam adulta nuptui) refers to her subsequent marriage. Her marriage was also an inspiration to late medieval women. Until the thirteenth century or later, marriage was considered a less pure course of life, compared to the life of chastity.

Elyzabeth insignis genere,in croceis nutrita tenereplus gratia quam ortu celebris,ut Lucifer micat in tenebris. Elizabeth was distinguished by birthwith a crosier, having been raisedmore with grace than her famous birth,so that Lucifer trembles in darkness.


Iam adulta nuptuivirgo traditaest divino cultuimagis dedita

quam sacra nutui

viri subdita.

Now mature for marriage,the maiden was handed overto sacred refinement,given to wise men;

how holy was she who submitted

to the command of the man.


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