Third in a series on Lutheran saints. Here we meet Elisabeth Cruciger and see how, when the gospel breaks through, “your daughters shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17). Proposed date of commemoration: May 2.
Elisabeth was born to the noble family von Meseritz around the turn of the sixteenth century. In her early life she was educated and eventually took vows as a canoness at the Mariensbusch abbey in the city of Treptow in the German region of Pomerania (today’s Poland). Marienbusch followed the Premonstratensian order, which had its own liturgical rite and placed great emphasis on the paschal suffering of Christ.
Like Katharina von Bora and many other nuns, Elisabeth fled her abbey in early 1522. Knowledge of Reformation ideas had arrived via Johannes Bugenhagen, who was at that time the rector of Treptow’s city school. She made her way to Wittenberg, where she lodged with the Bugenhagen family until in 1524 she married Caspar Cruciger, a reformer, teacher at the school in Magdeburg, and friend of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon.
Elisabeth and Caspar had two children: a daughter named Elisabeth who eventually married Luther’s son Hans, and a son named Caspar. The elder Caspar was later suspected of holding unacceptable ideas during intra-Lutheran disputes; the younger Caspar was actually imprisoned in Wittenberg and then exiled under suspicion of holding “crypto-Calvinist” ideas on the Lord’s Supper. Elisabeth herself died quite young in May of 1535, long before these accusations were leveled against her family members. Nothing else is known of her life other than her one long-standing contribution to Reformation music, the hymn “Lord Christ, the Only Son of God” (Herr Christ der einig Gotts Sohn)…Read More