A Minute of Prayer
Elizabeth Kindelmann, maiden name Szántó,
was born on June 6, 1913 at Saint Stephen’s Hospital, in
Kipest, Hungary. She was baptized on June 13, 1913.
In posthumous writings left by her spiritual director, who died in 1976, it is reported that she was from a poor family.
Her parents were Joseph Szántó, a printer (1871-1917) and Ersébet Meszaros (1878-1924). Her father was Protestant and her mother Catholic. The children received a Catholic education.
Elizabeth had twelve brothers and sisters, all twins, except for her who was the thirteenth child. She was the only one to make it through the adult age. Seven of her brothers and sisters were victims of the 1919 Spanish influenza. Two died from diphtheria and two others were killed in accidents. One of her brother died at a young age. Elizabeth never knew why.
“After my father’s death, between 1917 and 1919, I was raised by my grandparents at Seresznyéspuszta, in the countryside. The doctor had recommended that I live in the countryside because of my poor health. During that period, I don’t remember being taken to the church of Szekazard at about 14 kilometers from where we lived. I only remember that my grandmother was wearing a Rosary around her wrist, even when she was feeding the chickens and the pigs.
From September 1919 to June 1923, I attended the elementary school for girls, which was located in Pannonia Street, Budapest.”
In November 1923, as part of an international effort, Elizabeth was sent to Willisau, Switzerland to live with the family of a rich entrepreneur of agricultural machinery. “From the child that I was, I became under the surveillance of French and German housekeepers, a real girl, who had gone from 21 kilos to 38.
In November 1924, I came back to Budapest out of love for my mother who was seriously ill and confined to bed.
At the end of the year 1924, my Willisau “parents” wanted to adopt me and take me for good to Switzerland. The appointment was set for 10 o’clock at the Graz train station (Austria). I got there at 10:00 p.m., but they were expecting me at 10:00 a.m. That unfortunate misunderstanding caused me to stay and accomplish my mission in Hungary. A young Hungarian couple took me back to Budapest.
At the age of twelve, I was working for my uncle, from my mother’s side, at Vajta. I was supposed to stay there from Easter until the harvest of maize, but I could not tolerate the laziness of my cousins so I left and went back to Budapest.
From November 1925 to June 1926, I was working as a maid at the house of a provincial notable’s mother. I had to work from morning until evening and was fed only once a day. I lived in a pitiful social condition and suffered from hunger. So, I decided to leave to go downtown.
Under the carriage entrance of a little crumbling house, I saw an old lady not very friendly who was holding in her hand an empty siphon bottle of Seltzer water. She was looking at me and called me; she asked me if I could buy one bottle of seltzer water at the bar across the street. She gave me money and looked to see if I was doing what she asked me to. I brought back the bottle of seltzer water and I followed her inside the house where she offered me breakfast. She hired me to take care of her little garden, and in exchange she would provide the meals. There were strange people visiting her home. I physically put up resistance to a young man who was accustomed to the house. That very same day, I took my belongings and departed.
On August 10, 1926, I went to the Church of Perpetual Adoration on Ülloi Ave. When it was time to close the church, I went wandering around until I sat down on a bench at the Matyas Park. The policeman who was on duty had pity on me and did not send me away. When the morning came, I went to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where I slept during the whole mass. After I felt warmed up, I decided to go looking for a job. Next to the church of Jozsefvaros, it was posted on the door of a dairy that they were recruiting people to carry bottles of milk. I went and was hired, but I was told to come back three days later to start the job. By then, the person I was replacing would have left the dairy. What else should I do during those three days? There was at the Koszuru St. a manufacture that needed people to crack nuts. All the workers were seated around a long table. Each one of them had two baskets. They took the nuts from one basket, crack them and put them in the other basket. The production of each worker was weighed and they paid 4 “fillers” (100 fillers = one pengo. The pengo was the Hungarian currency from 1925 to 1946) an hour. With 10 “fillers”, I could buy five croissants at the marketplace of Teleki, which was the less expensive store of the city. I went to the house of the Franciscan fathers who gave me some money. I shared my bread with a starving woman; we sat on a bench and ate it at once. The Franciscans suggested that I went to see the sisters at Maria’s St. who accepted to shelter me in exchange of a pengo. Hunger forced me to rob and I was ashamed of myself. I went to confession. The Father who gave me the sacrament of reconciliation reassured me and said that I had not sinned, for only misery had forced me to do what I had done. Little after, the sisters decided to let me stay for free.
Living in poverty and without any human help, I kept on looking for jobs which were paying a little more. For the same work at another dairy located on Baross St. (eighth district of Budapest), they paid six pengos and one free meal. The third dairy, also on Baross St., kept me on my feet for one year. It was the best job, materially speaking. I was making 8 pengos and worked only from 5:00 to 11:30. I spent my free time praying, more often at the Church of Perpetual Adoration. I frequently attended the office of Perpetual Adoration. To adjust my salary, I took a job in a place where they pealed potatoes. They paid two “fillers” for one kilo of pealed potatoes. I was making 12 “fillers” for every three hours of work. In the meantime, I sold candies at a suburb theater. I was not watching movies. During the play, I would think of God. Occasionally, the director borrowed money from me. When she owed me 20 pengos, she chose to let me go.
I became a porter at Halles in the ninth district. Everyday, at six, I went there and offered my services to the ladies who came for shopping. I helped them carry their packages to their houses; once there, many of them invited me for breakfast. That’s how I met a middle class family who helped me take a nursing course at the Nursing School, in Dohany St., eighth district. But it will be ten years later that I would use my knowledge as a nurse when I worked at the Hospital of the Franciscan nuns and at the anti-tubercular Hospital of Tarogato Avenue.
I kept doing the same thing at the Halles even when I had a job in a small family enterprise. My salary was 60 pengos a month and lunch was provided. I was able then to rent a room. I moved in at 10, Magdolna St., first floor where I was paying 20 pengos a month. I worked from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Throughout those hardship times, I wanted to make God known to others. I had constantly in mind religious teachings and missions.
At fifteen years old, I decided to become a nun at the Perpetual Adoration which was a religious congregation founded by the countess of Oultremont. I could spend hours contemplating in silence the Blessed Sacrament. My heart was filled with God’s love. One day I went to the convent and asked the door sister how I could be admitted. She said I needed a recommendation letter and gave me a list of the things needed for the admission. It was also stated that each person would give a certain amount of money according to her possibility.
I was shocked when I read it and I thought I would never be able to raise such an amount. So my little project of becoming a nun faded away. Nevertheless, I felt deep down in my heart the desire to become a missionary nun. I did not know that God had other projects in store for me.”
Autumn 1928 – “I do not recall the name of the old lady that I used to meet at the Perpetual Adoration. I told her about my dreams to become a missionary. She gave me the address of the missionary sisters of Hermina St. who were raising and teaching orphans and who were also conducting missions and sending out missionaries.
When I got to Hermina St., I asked to speak to the nun in charge of missionaries. That was the first time I heard the expression ‘Superior’. The sister at the door took me to the waiting area. The Superior came and told me to sit down since I was standing up. I told her how I wanted to go on a mission and make God know to others. I explained to her that I was an orphan and how much money I was making. Then, she stood up and said that I did not have the true vocation and that I only wanted to become a nun because I was an orphan without a home. End of conversation.
I was confused. Everything was upside down in me. I did not share that story with anyone except for the lady who gave me the address of the convent. After listening to my story, she said: “Go to their Headquarters at Menesi Avenue and ask for the Provincial Superior.”
I took the tramway to go to Pest (Buda and Pest are separated by the Danube which divides the city in two parts) via the bridge Francois-Joseph (Francis-Joseph). I asked to meet with the Provincial Superior. I waited a few minutes which seemed to be as long as the five ones that would precede my agony.
The Provincial Superior was so kind that I felt completely relieved. I told her everything. She took my hand like a mother and said: “We will ask the Lord Jesus to decide and He will guide us. Everything will go according to His will.” We both went to the chapel, but I stood at the back. I could witness how the Provincial Superior was conversing with the Lord Jesus. She came back, took my hand softly and we headed back to the waiting area. There, she made me sit, put her hand over mine and said: “That is not what God wants, my child.” I almost fainted. “Do you know what God wants? He wants something else for you. He has another mission for you that you must accomplish the best you can.”
The Provincial Superior accompanied me to the door. She kissed me on the forehead and blessed me. The will of God was different. After the encounter with the Provincial Superior, all my hopes vanished. Despair took over me. My soul was in torment for a week. I did not know yet that it was the devil’s work.
After I went to confession with Father Matray (who became later on my confessor for many years), all my worries were gone.
1927-1930: “To pray and to have knowledge was my only desire. I find it hard to express my thirst for studies so as to gain more knowledge. In six months, I learned the manuals of the first two years of elementary school. I did not have money to pass the exams. I started studying the books of the third and fourth years. That’s how I learned without getting a certificate.
Autumn of 1929 was a turning point in my life. With my nice voice and fine hearing, I was accepted in the Choral of the Church of Christ the King Community at Jozsefavors. The first tenor was Karoly Kindelmann and I was the first soprano. He asked me to marry him. I was sixteen when I got married and my husband had thirty years more. He was a chimney sweep instructor and that particular function was well paid. We were married on May 25, 1930, which was the Pentecost. My husband had a four room house built nearby Budapest.
Between the years 1931 and 1942, I had six children. The Angelus and the Rosary were part of our life.
On April 26, 1946 my husband died. I was a widow with six children. After the war I could not have survived with my kids if I did not sell some of our belongings and possessions. Almost all of what we had then were traded. The nationalization of 1948 was very harsh on us. We were on the verge of ruin. I became a waitress at the military academy where I worked twelve hours a day. I took the leftovers to feed my family. Six months later I was fired for ‘political’ reasons. They had discovered that I had in my house a statue of the Virgin Mary and some candles.”
November 1950 – May 1951. “I was in a humanely hopeless situation. My financial problems were driving me further and further from God. I was wandering from streets to streets and from districts to districts. That’s how I realized there was a change of owner at the former Eötli foundry located in the Kobanya quarter. It was now named the Gábor Áron foundry. I was hired as a technical supervisor. I was able to save my family from starvation. My children were doing art works at home. My oldest girls were making stockings with a knitting machine and my sons were sewing cloth with a loom.
Later, the place where I was working was reorganized and many employees were laid off. I was among them. Once more, I had to start looking for a job.
December 26, 1951 was the wedding of my oldest daughter, Cecile.
While I was looking at the job section in a newspaper, I found a job at a stove factory. The pay was so little that I had to look elsewhere.
In autumn of the year 1953, I worked at a gasworks factory. The job ended one month before the national uprising of 1956.
Christmas of 1955 – My second daughter is getting married.
Summer of 1957 – My boss is the dry cleaner Lazlo Harangi, at the seventh district. After the dry cleaning, I was employed at a craft cooperative where I was making silk scarves.
June 1957 – It’s the wedding of my third daughter, Maria. In June 1958, my son Karoli got married. In 1959, lodging problems for the four new families are solved.”
1960 – Elizabeth Kindelmann went to register at the public university to study psychology and astronomy; once more she did not succeed with her plans.
“On July 13, 1960, three days before the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, she wrote, I had a wonderful spiritual illumination, which lasted three days from morning to night. Whenever I was talking to someone or vice versa, it stopped. That suave sensation created in me peace and quiet. It took me a few weeks to realize that this was the introduction of the quiet presence of God within which cannot be expressed with intellectual terms.”
Christmas of 1961 – “My second child, but the first of my three boys is getting married at the age of 26. In the course of six years, the family had three boys. The mother died after giving birth to her third child. She had breast cancer. The grandmother on the father’s side decided to raise the little orphans.”
When approaching her fifties, Elizabeth thought she was entering a quiet and peaceful time after an eventful life. But Christ and His holy Mother spoke to her.
1962 – “Before receiving the messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary, I had that specific call: ‘Renounce yourself for We have a great mission for you. You’ll only be able to do it if you completely renounce yourself. You are free to choose. You will accomplish it only if you want it.’
After experiencing doubts and torments within my soul, I accepted God’s will. My soul was seized with so much grace that I was speechless.”
It is deep inside that she listens to their words. She can clearly distinguish the voice of Jesus from the one of Mary or the angel.
On April 11, 1985 Elizabeth Kindelmann died after a long and painful illness that she bore with patience; she was comforted with the last rites. She was buried at Erd/Ofalu, approximately 24 kilometers, southwest of Budapest, on the banks of the Danube.
Before she became the Lord and Virgin Mary’s tool, she endured many trials that she overcame with exceptional strength.
For many decades, she was unknown to the public.