St. Elizabeth'sPatient and Visitor InformationSpiritual Care

History of St. Elizabeth's Medical Center

St. Elizabeth’s Hospital was established by five Catholic women in 1868 and initially served the needs for care of sick immigrant women as well as affording shelter to retired and feeble women.  Later on, men were admitted for hospital care.

In 1883 Archbishop Williams requested the services of the Sisters of the Third Order Regular from Alleghany, NY to join the original group of women.  The original five women became members of the Third Order of St. Francis and continued their services for the hospital.

These historical roots clarify the religious basis on which this hospital was founded namely for the purpose of caring for the poor and sick in an atmosphere of Christian faith and charity.

As the hospital grew and necessarily changed locations due to the need for increased space, it has retained its religious purpose along with the commitment of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.  In 1914, Archbishop William Cardinal O’Connell, also Chairman of the Board of Trustees, undertook a major fund raising campaign to support the new and present site of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, MA. (The new hospital was entirely paid for in 10 days).

We are a 252 bed acute care facility dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research.  A major urban health care facility with specialized skills and services for complex diagnosis and treatment.  St. Elizabeth’s is also deeply involved as the community hospital for neighboring communities, offering extensive programs of outpatient care and community health care.  We continue to keep pace with planning for future needs, as impressive modernization programs continue.

Dedicated to teaching future generations of health care professionals, St. Elizabeth’s is a major teaching affiliate of the Tufts University School of Medicine.  St. Elizabeth’s is the founding institution of the Caritas Christi Health Care System, which was acquired by Steward Health Care System in 2010.  We are the core tertiary teaching hospital for the system.

For several decades, the religious basis of the hospital’s care was made visible through the presence of the community of religious sisters who staffed the hospital and the priest chaplains who served the spiritual needs of the hospital population.  As times changed and vocational shortages affected the religious communities, the sisters were no longer able to staff St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.  When lay administrators assumed leadership, it was clear then, as it is today, that the heritage of faith, the tradition of charity and commitment of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston would continue.  In a concrete way, these are manifested through providing quality patient care to the community, fully modern facilities for medical performance, teaching programs for interns, residents, nurses, chaplains and research for the benefit of future generations.  Moreover, St. Elizabeth’s remains strongly committed to providing for the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff.

Background of our Patroness:

Our Patroness is St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231).  Elizabeth was a royal Hungarian princess.  Betrothed in infancy, she married at the age of fourteen.  By the age of twenty, she was the mother of three children, pregnant with her fourth child and a widow.  Hers was a happy marriage and her husband, Louis, fully supported Elizabeth’s efforts to care for the sick at the foot of a steep cliff near the castle.  She used her own funds and cared directly for the needs of the sick and the poor.  She was banished by her brother-in-law after her husband’s death and suffered from material isolation.  She became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis and built the Franciscan Hospital in Marburg.  She was an excellent organizer and adept administrator and a good bedside nurse.  Her concept of social services strikes one as very modern.  Those who were able to work, she hired in a way suited to their capacity.

Elizabeth, in her short span of years, struggled in many ways and never lost sight of prayer lifer and service to the poor.  The holiness of Elizabeth’s life was beginning to be recognized; eventually, she inspired the grudging respect of those who had persecuted her along with the devoted affection of the poor and common fold.  Elizabeth died at the age of 24 and her canonization came only three years after her death in 1234.


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