Even at a very young age, Elizabeth Wiltsee was different from everyone
else. Behind her wide eyes and gap-toothed smile lay a prodigious
intelligence. With an IQ of 200, she taught herself to read by age four
and was reading classical Greek by the time she was ten. She grew up in
Manila, then Geneva and graduated with the first National Merit Scholar-
ship from the Milton Academy, outside of Boston. At Stanford University,
English Professor John Felstiner found in Elizabeth a deep thinker with
the soul of a poet, possessing "an utterly uncommon voice and sensibility."
Liz at Stanford, 1969
A decade later, parishioners in a small farming community on the Central
California coast would find her sleeping in the doorway of their church,
homeless and apparently mute, adverse to all offers of help. Eventually she
would become part of their parish, shyly attending Mass, and spending her afternoons in the public library poring over the
classics, translating 8th century Chinese poetry. Despite Wiltsee's deepening mental illness and increasingly erratic
behavior, parishioners at St. Patrick's nevertheless deemed her condition worthy, not of scorn, but of compassion.