The Miracle of Pea Removal

I just ran across an interesting academic book, The Life and Afterlife of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. (The roses in the lap one. Died in AD 1231.)

The cool bit is that the book includes an English translation of all the depositions on posthumous miracles received by the papal canonization commission investigating St. Elizabeth. There are tons of people healed from insanity, paralysis, sickness, etc. A cross-section of society testifies, as well as both men and women, and sometimes there were so many eager witnesses that the commission members had to write down the testimony of only the most relevant ones.

But there is also Mahtild of Marburg, whose mother Gertrud testified in 1233 about her miracle of pea removal (along with her kids who were involved, and four of the neighbor women).

At the age of three, Mahtild had put a pea in her ear.

Nobody could get it out, although many people tried. (Presumably it started out as a dried pea, or it mummified in the ear.) Eventually, poor Mahtild was so traumatized that she would flinch, cry, and run away if anybody came near her, for fear that they’d start trying to dig out the pea with yet another twig or reed. After many years of this, Mahtild’s ear began to grow over the pea, until the passage was almost entirely blocked.

In desperation, Gertrud took Mahtild to the church where then-Blessed Elizabeth was buried. Gertrud knelt and poured out her desperate prayers, then ordered her older son Heinric to try digging out the pea with a reed, for the umpteenth time.

The boy happily announced that he didn’t have to, as the pea had popped out all by itself, before he could even get near Mahtild’s ear.

I love this miracle. It’s such a timeless human mishap, and there’s such a great happy ending.

So if you ever have a problem with your kid putting beans up his nose, I guess there’s a patron saint for legumes stuck into facial orifices!

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, pray for us!


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