Biography of Elizabeth Kindelmann
Elizabeth and Her Family
Elizabeth Kindelmann, maiden name Szántó, was born on June 6, 1913 at Saint Stephen’s Hospital, in Kispest, Hungary. She was baptized on June 13, 1913.
From the posthumous writings of her spiritual director, who died in 1976, we learn that she came from a poor family. Her parents were Joseph Szántó, printer (1871-1917) and Ersébet Mészáros (1878-1924). Her father was Protestant and her mother Catholic. The children were educated and raised as Catholics.
Elizabeth had twelve brothers and sisters, six pairs of twins. She was the thirteenth child, the only one without a twin. Tragically, she was the only child to make it to adulthood. Seven of her siblings died during the Spanish Plague of 1919. Two died in the aftermath of diphtheria and two more died accidentally. Another brother died as an infant, and Elizabeth never got to know the cause of his death.
Following my Father’s Death
Following my father’s death, and from 1917 to 1919, I was raised by my maternal grandparents in Seresznyéspuszta, in the countryside. Because of my frail health the physician advised me to live in the countryside. From that period of time, I cannot recall being taken to the church of Szekazard located some fourteen kilometers away. All I can remember is that my grandmother always wore a Rosary around her wrist even while she was feeding the chickens and the hogs (4 to 6 years old).
The Elementary School
From September 1919 to June 1923, I attended the elementary school for girls on Pannonia Street, in Budapest (6 to 10 years old).
As part of an international assistance initiative, on November 8, 1923, Elizabeth was sent to Switzerland, to the family of a wealthy agricultural machinery manufacturer in Willisau.“From the weak child that I had been, I became a young girl under the care of French and German governesses growing in weight from twenty-one to thirty-eight kilos (46 to 83 pounds).
My Critically Ill Mother
In November 1924 (11 years old), purely out of love, I came back to Budapest to look after my ailing mother who was seriously ill and bedridden.
Back to Switzerland
In November 1924 , purely out of love, I came back to Budapest to look after my ailing mother who was seriously ill and bedridden.
Towards the end of 1924, my foster parents of Willisau wanted to adopt me and take me back to Switzerland. I was to meet them at ten o’clock at the Graz railway station (Austria). I got there at 10:00 p.m. as opposed to 10:00 a.m. when they were actually expecting me.
Incredibly, it is this mishap that changed the course of events affecting my life and leading me to fulfill my mission in Hungary. At the time, a young Hungarian couple took me back to Budapest (11 years old).
My Maternal Uncle in Vajta
By the age of twelve, I was working in the household of my maternal uncle in Vajta for the period running from Easter up to the corn harvest. I simply could not stand the crass laziness of my cousins, three boys and a girl and I slipped out without a word and I went back to Budapest.
One Meal for the Day
From November 1925 to June 1926, I was working as a maid in the countryside for the mother of a man of significant influence. I had to work from morning to evening having to survive on a single meal for the whole day. My social condition was indeed pitiful, suffering from severe hunger. So, I packed up my things and simply left for downtown (13 years old).
Under the carriage port of a small, dilapidated house, I noticed a not so friendly older woman holding an empty siphon (bottle) of Seltzer water. She looked at me and called me over. She asked me to go buy her a bottle of Seltzer water at the bar across the street. She gave me the money and watched on to see whether I would comply with her request. Upon returning the Seltzer she proceeded to question me. Then she let me into the house and gave me breakfast. I was hired to look after her small garden in exchange for meals. There were very strange visitors living there. I actually had to fight off with considerable loud yelling a young man who frequently came to the house. I left the same day and kept on wandering with my meager belongings.
No Place to Sleep
On August 10, 1926, I went to the Church of Perpetual Adoration on Ülloi Avenue. When the time came to close the church, I went on wandering until I found a bench on Matyas’ Place. The policeman patrolling the area had pity on me and did not send me away. When morning arose, I went to the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where I slept through the Mass. Once warmed up, I went out roaming around looking for work (14 years old).
Working at the Creamery
and Cracking Nuts
Close by the church of Jozsefvaros, there was a creamery and on the door a note they were hiring people to distribute bottles of milk. I introduced myself and was hired on the spot, but I was also told I could only start three days later, the time the current carrier would leave the job. What would I do meanwhile? On Koszuru Street, I came across a factory, hiring people on the spot busy cracking nuts. The employees would sit alongside a table each with two baskets. The nuts taken from one were shelled and placed in the other. Each employee’s production was weighed. They paid four fillers* an hour, and for ten fillers I could buy myself five croissants at the Teleki marketplace, the cheapest in the city.
*From 1925 to 1946, one hundred fillers equalled one pengo, Hungarian currency.
Stealing a Piece of Bread
Later, I strolled to the Franciscan Fathers who gave me a small amount of money and I shared my bread with a starving woman. We ate it right away sitting on a bench at the marketplace. The Franciscans suggested that I see the Sisters on Maria Street, who effectively gave me shelter for one pengo. Hunger drove me to steal and I was ashamed of myself. I went to confession. The priest who heard my confession was moved to tears and he assured me that I had committed no sin, for misery was what had forced me to steal. Later, the Sisters would charge me nothing for lodging.”
A Second and Third Creamery Jobs
In my misery and deprived of any human support I had to go from employer to employer for any additional remuneration and improved conditions. For the same work in a creamery on Baross Street, the Eighth District of Budapest, I was given six pengos and free lunch. The third creamery, also on Baross Street, in effect provided me with a satisfactory livelihood for almost a year. Materially, this job turned out to be the best one I ever held. I was earning eight pengos and working only from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. I spent all my free time praying most often at the Church of Perpetual Adoration. I attended the office of Perpetual Adoration regularly.
To earn more, I worked in a factory peeling potatoes, paying two fillers for ten kilos of production. In three hours, I could earn twelve fillers. Further, I was supplementing my income by selling sweets in a small suburb cinema. I did not pay attention to the projections; I would simply take an available seat and meditate on God. The managing lady often borrowed small sums from me and once her indebtedness rose to twenty pengos, she simply fired me.
I also became an occasional grocery bag-carrier at the local market in the Ninth District. Early at 6:00 a.m., I would go to the local market offering my services to the ladies doing their shopping. Once we got back to their house, many times I would be invited to stay for breakfast. This is how I met a middle-class family in Budapest and thanks to whom I was able to take classes at the school of nursing on Dohany Street in the Eighth District. However, it would be another ten years before I would put my nursing skills to actual practice at the Hospital of the Franciscan Sisters and at a hospital on Tarogato Avenue, dedicated to patients afflicted with tuberculosis.
A Room to Sleep
I kept my activities at the market even once I had landed a job in a small family factory making brushes.I was paid sixty pengos a month and the family gave me lunch. That provided me with the means to rent a room and I settled down on the first floor at 10 Magdolna Street. My cost was twenty pengos a month and my working hours went from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Concerned About Religious Education
Throughout this struggle for survival and daily bread, I wanted to make people aware of the Lord. The necessity to teach about religion was forever a pressing desire in my perceived mission in this life.
I Want To Be a Nun
By the age of fifteen, I decided to join the nuns. I had in mind the religious order of Perpetual Adoration. The Congregation was founded in Paris by the Countess of Outremont. I would spend hours silently contemplating the Blessed Sacrament displayed for the faithful in adoration. In so doing, my heart would fill up with the love of God.
One day, I went to the convent to ask the receptionist Sister about how one could be admitted to the order. She replied that I needed a letter of recommendation and handed me a large printed sheet of paper listing what was to be provided to the convent upon admission. Besides the detailed list of needed personal clothing, it was also pointed out that each candidate should provide a certain amount of money according to the individual’s capacity to pay.
I was stunned reading the document, it was clear to me that I could never raise such a small fortune. As a result, I concluded that my abject poverty should be the basis for making that project vanish altogether from my mind. Despite that, my desire to become a religious missionary was continually growing deep in my soul. There was no way I could suspect that God had other plans for me.”
Autumn 1928. “At the Perpetual Adoration which I often attended, there was an elderly lady whose name I can’t recall and in whom I confided about my dream to become a missionary. She gave me the address of the Missionary Sisters on Hermina Street whose mission was to educate orphans and send nuns out on various missions.
When I got there, I asked to speak with the Sister responsible for admissions to the order. It is then that I heard the word Superior for the first time. The receptionist nun led me to the guest room. The Superior came in and invited me to sit down, because I was used to just keep standing up. I told her about my wish to go to missions to make people know about God. After telling her I was an orphan and my earnings, she stood up and said: ‘My child, I will tell you why you want to be a nun. You do not have the vocation; you are an orphan without a home and this is motivating you to join a convent.’
That terminated the conversation. I was totally shattered. I told no one about this encounter, except the lady who had given me the address. She listened to my story and said: ‘Go to the Mother House on Menesi Avenue and see the Provincial Superior.’
I took the streetcar to Pest across the Franz-Joseph Bridge. Buda and Pest are separated by the Danube River, cutting the city in two parts. I asked to see the Provincial Superior and I had to wait some five minutes, which felt like a painful agonizing moment.
The Provincial Sister spoke to me with such kindness that I felt quite relaxed. I told her everything in total honesty. She took my hand like a mother and said: ‘Let us ask the Lord Jesus what His will is and He will tell us what we must do. Everything will be according to His will.’ We went to the chapel but I stayed in the back standing beside the pews. I kept watching the Provincial Sister speaking with the Lord Jesus. She came back, took my hand and we returned to the guest room. We sat down and she placed her hand on mine, took a deep look into my eyes and said: ‘My child, the will of God is different.’ I almost fainted. ‘Do you know what the will of God is? He wants something else for you. He will entrust you with another mission. That mission will need to be fulfilled as best you can.’
The Provincial Sister walked me to the door, kissed me on the forehead, blessed me, and I left. God has another plan for me. Following that encounter, it was like everything inside of me was disintegrating. I was quite distraught. My soul was tortured for a week. I was not yet aware at the time that this torture was in fact the work of the devil.
I went to Father Matray for confession (he later became my confessor for many years). The darkness of doubt in my heart had dissipated.”
Studying Without a Certificate
1927-1930 (17 years old). “Praying and knowledge were my only desire. It was difficult to express my thirst for study to broaden my knowledge base. Within six months I learned by heart the textbooks of the first two years of the Superior Elementary School. However, since I did not have the money to write the exams, I continued studying the books of the third and fourth years with the results that I had done the studies without a certificate to show for it.
Christ The King Choir in Jozsefvaros
The First Tenor was Karoly Kindelmann
In the fall of 1929, my life took a significant turn. Since I was gifted with a fine voice and a good ear, I was admitted to the Community Church, Christ the King Choir in Jozsefvaros. The first tenor was Karoly Kindelmann and I was the first soprano. He asked me to marry him and so we did. I was quite young at sixteen while he was thirty years older. His main occupation was as master chimneysweeper a well-remunerated trade at that time. We got married on May 25, 1930, on Pentecost Sunday. He had a four-room house built on the outskirts of Budapest.
Alone with Six Children
Between 1931 and 1942, we had six children. The Angelus and the Rosary were an integral part of our family daily life. A few years later on April 26, 1946, my husband died. My social status as a widow with six children made it particularly difficult. Following the devastation of the war, I was able to survive with my children only by bartering our possessions. The closets were being emptied and almost all our belongings changed ownership. The nationalization of 1948 brought my family to the edge of ruin. I became a waitress at the military academy working twelve hours a day. The meal leftovers provided food for my family. However, I was fired six months later for political reasons. Somehow, they discovered I was keeping a statue of the Virgin Mary and candles in my home.”
A Truly Desperate Situation
November 1950 to May 1951 (38 years old). “I was quite destitute and in a truly desperate situation. Unbearable money problems were forcing me to be more and more distant from the Lord. This got to the point of being completely dazed and wandering aimlessly from street to street and district to district without any definite purpose. It is during one of those aimless walks that I came across the Eötli foundry in the district of Kobanya, which had changed its sign to the new name of Gábor Áron. The benevolent personnel manager saw fit to hire me as the Technical Piecework Supervisor. That literally saved my family from dire starvation. Further, my children were doing craft work at home. My two elder daughters were making stockings with a knitting machine while my sons were making sieve cloth on a weaving loom.
Unfortunately, as sometimes happens the factory was reorganized and along with other employees, I was back on the street looking for a job.
Working in a Stove Factory
On December 26, 1951, Cecilia, my oldest daughter got married. While browsing through the classified ads in a local paper I found work in a stove factory. The pay was at starvation level and I had to get back looking for yet another job opportunity. In the fall of 1953, I was hired in a gas equipment factory. My work came to a halt one month before the national uprising of 1956.
My Next Employer was a Dyeing Shop
Christmas 1955. “Valery, my second daughter got married.”
Summer 1957. “My next employer was a dyeing shop, Lazlo Harangi, in the Seventh District. Following that job, I became quite busy in a cooperative doing handicraft work, more specifically making silk scarves.”
My Third Daughter got Married
June 1957. Maria, my third daughter got married. In June 1958, my son Karoly got married. In 1959, the lodging problem for the four families was resolved.
Back to School
1960. Material hardships having subsided, Elizabeth Kindelmann registered at the public university to study psychology and astronomy, yet another project like so many others bound to fail dismally.
A Wonderful Spiritual Illumination
“On July 13, 1960 (47 years od), three days before the feast of Our Lady of Carmel I had a wonderful spiritual illumination. It lasted three days from dawn to dusk. If I spoke to anyone or conversely anyone spoke to me it disappeared. This blissful sensation would create a serene peace in my heart. Indeed, that experience was absolutely overwhelming. It is only several weeks later that I could determine that it represented the mute introduction of the Lord’s presence, something that literally defies one’s capacity to express intellectually.”
Calm and Peaceful Period
Christmas 1961. Jozsef, the second child also the eldest of three sons, got married at the age of twenty-six. Over the following six years they had three sons. Unfortunately, following the birth of the third child the mother died of breast cancer. The grandmother on the father’s side took charge raising the young orphans.
As Elizabeth was edging towards her fifties, she thought that she would enter a calm and peaceful period having lived through a difficult life. However, that was not to be.
The Lord Jesus and His Blessed Mother began speaking to her.
Prior to receiving messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary, I received the following inspiration: ‘You must be selfless, for we will entrust you with a great mission and you will be up to the task. However, this is only possible if you remain totally selfless, abjuring yourself. That mission can be bestowed upon you only if you also want it in respect of your free will.
After a period of serious doubts and torments for my soul, I accepted that the will of God be done. My soul was so overwhelmed with grace that I was unable to utter a single word. Very deep inside she could hear their words. She could clearly distinguish the voice of the Lord Jesus from that of the Virgin Mary or the angel.
Elizabeth Kindelmann Died at the Age of 72
On April 11, 1985 (72 years old), Elizabeth Kindelmann died at the age of 72, after a long illness that she bore with patience and was comforted by the Sacrament for the Dying. She was buried in Erd/Ofalu, about twenty-four kilometers South West of Budapest, on the banks of the Danube. In 2001, the remains of Elizabeth were transferred to the family crypt located in the Church of the Holy Spirit in Budapest, a place she used to visit every day.
Before she became the instrument of the Lord and the Virgin Mary, she had suffered many trials and tribulations she overcame with exceptional resilience and courage.
She remained totally unknown to the public for years after her departure.