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Legends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art online

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of the Third Franciscan Order ; and when she found
that she was not permitted to give away all she had,
she wished to alienate her possessions, to take the vows
of absolute poverty, and to beg her bread through the
world : but this also Conrad refused to allow. She
resolved therefore, as she might not beg, to labor for
her support. She spun wool, and as her poor fingers
became weaker and weaker, and she earned less and
less, her clothes became ragged, and she mended them
with shreds of any color, picked up here and there, so
that her appearance excited the derision of the people,
and the very children — those children whom she had
so tended and cherished — pursued her in the streets
as a mad woman ! All these humiliations, and more
and worse, she endured with an humble and resigned
spirit, and the pious looked upon her as a second St.
Clara.

But even into her poor retreat the wicked world pur-
sued her. It was reported — but only in distant parts,
whei-e she was not known — that she was living with
the priest Conrad in an unholy union ; and her old
friend, Walther de Varila, thought it right to visit her
and to warn her of these reports. She made no answer,
but, sadly shaking her head, she bared her shoulders
and showed them lacerated by the penitential scourge
inflicted by her harsh director. So Walther de Varila
said no more, but sorrowfully went his way.

After this visit Conrad dismissed her two women,
who till now had served her faithfully, and placed round
her person creatures of his own, who made her drink to
the very dregs the cup of humiliation. True, it was
said that she was comforted by celestial visitants ; that
the angels, and the blessed Virgin herself, deigned to
hold converse with her ; but not the less did the poor



ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY.



35 1



visionary, or favored saint, gradually fade away, till,
laid upon her last bed, she turned her face to the wall
and began to sing hymns with a most sweet voice :
when her strength failed, she uttered the word " Si-
lence ! " and so died. The legend adds, that angels
bore her spirit into heaven ; and, as they ascended
through the night, they were heard from afar chanting
the response, " Regnum mundi contempsi." She had
just completed her twenty-fourth year, and had sur-
vived her husband three years and a half.

No sooner had Elizabeth breathed her last breath,
than the people surrounded her couch, tore away her
robe, cut off her hair, — even mutilated her remains for
relics. She was buried amid miracles and lamenta-
tions, and four years after her death she was canonized
by Gregory IX.

In the same year was founded the Church of St.
Elizabeth at Marbourg It was completed in forty-
eight years, and her shrine there was enriched by the
offerings of all Germany. The church is one of the
finest specimens of pure early Gothic, and in perfect
preservation. The richly ornamented chapel of St.
Elizabeth is in the transept, — the stone steps around
it worn hollow by the knees of pilgrims. The shrine
of St. Thomas of Canterbury was not more venerated
and visited in England than the shrine of St. Elizabeth
in Germany This shrine is still preserved in the sac-
risty, but merely as a curiosity ; for at the time of the
Keformation it was violated, with circumstances of great
and brutal levity, by her own descendant, Philip, land-
grave of Hesse, styled in history " the Magnanimous,"
and her remains were dispersed no one knows how or
whither.

The Castle of the Wartburg, once the home of Eliza-
beth, is now almost a ruin. The chamber she inhabited
is still carefully preserved, not because it was hers, but
because it was Luther's. Here he found a refuge from
the vengeance of priests and princes ; here he completed
his translation of the Bible ; here, as he himself relates.



35 a LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

he contended bodily with the demons who came to inter-
rupt his work ; and here they still show the stain on the
wall from the inkstand which he flung at the head of
Satan ; — looking on which, we may the more easily
forgive the sick fancies and soul tortures of that gentlest
and loveliest of all saints, Elizabeth.

I remember climbing the rocky by-path to the sum-
mit of the Wartburg, the path where Elizabeth was
encountered with her lapful of roses ; and I cannot help
thinking that to have performed that feat twice a day
required indeed all the aspiring fervor of the saint, as
well as the tender enthusiasm of the woman, young and
light in spirit and in limb. Poor Elizabeth ! Her
memory still lives in the traditions of the people, and
in the names given to many of the localities near Eise-
nach and Marbourg ; they still cultivate roses round the
vicinity of the steep and stony Wartburg : I recollect
seeing the little cemetery which lies near the base of the
mountain all one blush of roses ; — you could not see
the tombstones for the rose-bushes, nor the graves for
the rose-leaves heaped on them.

And so much for the history of Elizabeth of Hun-
gary ; which having read and considered, we now turn
to the effigies which exist of her.

She ought, of course, to be always represented as
young and beautiful, but some of the German artists
have overlooked the historical description of her person,
and converted the dark-eyed, dark-haired Hungarian
beauty into the national blonde. They have also given
her the features of a matron of mature and even ven-
erable age : and it is curious that this mistake is not
made in the Italian pictures. Her proper attribute is the
lapful of roses, which should be red and white, theroses
of paradise (love and purity, — like those which crown
St. Cecilia). She sometimes wears the attire of a
sovereign princess, sometimes the veil of a widow,
and sometimes the habit and cord of a Franciscan
nun : in general a cripple or beggar is prostrate at her
feet, and the diseased cripple has sometimes the line-



ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY. 353

ametits of a child. Where three crowns are intro-
duced they represent her sanctity as virgin, as wife,
and as widow.

I will give some examples : —

1. The statue in the Cathedral at Marbourg is per-
naps the most ancient. She stands, as patroness of the
church, a grand dignified figure, with ample massive
drapery falling round her form ; a crown on her head ;
in one hand she holds the church (according to custom),
the other hand is broken off; — it was probably ex-
tended in benediction : at her feet is the figure of a
cripple.

2. A colossal figure on one of the windows of the
Cathedral of Cologne, north of the nave.

3. She stands in a niche, holding up a basket of
roses, — no crown, long golden hair flowing over her
robe of crimson and ermine. (Basle Musee.)

4. She stands, holding up with both hands the folds
of her robe filled with roses. (F. Angelico.)

5. A most beautiful figure in a Coronation of the
Virgin (S. Botticelli) ; she is looking up with a soft
devout expression, her lap full of roses, and the three
crowns embroidered on the front of her tunic.

6. She stands in the dress of a nun, veiled ; a rosary
in her hand, and the roses in her lap ; — one of a group
of Franciscan saints in an altar-piece of the glorified
Madonna.*

7. She stands in royal attire, ministering to some
diseased beggars who kneel at her feet, the leprous boy
being conspicuous among them. (Holbein, Munich
Gallery.)

* " Santa Elisabetta che e bellissima figura, con aria ridente e
volto grazioso, e, con il grembo pieno di rose ; e pare che gioisca
veggendo per miracolo di Deo che il pane, che ella stessa, gran
signora, portava ai poveri, fosse convertite in rose, in segno che
era accetta a Dio quella sua umile carita." — Vasari, i. 659. Fl.
edit. The other saints in this fine picture are St. Francis, St.
Antony of Padua, St. Louis Kiug, St. Louis of Toulouse, St.
Bona ventura, St. Ives of Bivtagne, and St. Eleazar of Sabran.

23



354 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

8. She stands, veiled as a widow, giving a vest to a
kneeling beggar. As is usual with ancient votive
pictures, the saint is colossal, the beggar diminutive.
(Boisseree Gallery.)

9. St. Elizabeth spinning with five of her maids ; in
a print by Hans Burgmair.

Of the subjects taken from her life, the most ancient,
I presume, are the sculptures over the altar of her
chapel in the Cathedral at Marbourg. They are carved
in wood, in very high relief, and in the pure German
religious style, somewhat like Albert Diirer, but cer-
tainly more ancient. In the centre is the death of St.
Elizabeth. Seven figures of priests and attendants sur-
round her bed : the most conspicuous and authori-
tative of these, which I presume to represent her con-
fessor, Conrad, has the head broken off, and is the only
figure mutilated. On one side, she is carried to the
tomb ; on the other is the exaltation of her relics after
her canonization in presence of the Emperor Frederic.

On the doors which close in this sculpture are painted
several subjects from her life ; among them the fol-
lowing : —

1. She gives her royal mantle to the beggar. 2.
The miracle of the poor leper laid in her bed. 3. The
parting of Elizabeth and her husband. 4. She is ex-
pelled from her castle of the Wartburg.

But the most celebrated picture from the life of St.
Elizabeth is that which Murillo painted for the church
of the Caritad at Seville, one of the series of pictures
illustrating " the works of charity." It is thus described
by Mr. Stirling : —

" The composition consists of nine figures assembled
in one of the halls of her hospital. In the centre stands
• the King's daughter of Hungary/ arrayed in the dark
robe and white head-gear of a nun, surmounted by a
small coronet ; she is engaged in washing, at a silver
basin, the scald head of a beggar-boy, which being
painted with revolting adherence to nature, has obtained
for the picture its Spanish name el Tinoso. Two of



ST. ELIZABETH OF BEX GARY.



355



her ladies, bearing a silver ewer and a tray with cups
and a napkin, stand at her right hand, and from behind
peers a spectacled dueha ; to her left hand there is a
second boy, likewise a ti.loso, removing with great
caution, and a wry face, the plaster which covers his
head, a cripple resting on his crutches, and an old wo-
man seated on the steps of the dais. More in the fore-
ground, to the right of the group, a half-naked beggar,
with his head bound up, leisurely removes the bandage
from an ulcer on his leg, painted with a reality so
curious, and so disgusting, that the eye is both arrested
and sickened. In the distance, through a window or
opening, is seen a group of poor people seated at table,
waited on by their gentle hostess. In this picture,
although it has suffered somewhat from rash restora-
tion, the management of the composition and the lights,
the brilliancy of the coloring, and the manual skill of
the execution, are above all praise. Some objection
may, perhaps, be made to the exhibition of so much
that is sickening in the details. But this, while it is
justified by the legend, also heightens the moral effect
of the picture. The disgust felt by the spectator is
evidently shared by the attendant ladies ; yet the high-
born dame continues her self-imposed task, her pale
and pensive countenance betraying no inward repug-
nance, and her dainty fintrcrs shrinking from no service
that can alleviate human misery, and exemplify her
devotion to her Master. The old hag, whose brown
scraggy neck and lean arms enhance by contrast the
delicate beauty of the saint, alone seems to have leisure
or inclination to repay her with a look of grateful ad-
miration. The distant alcove, in which the table is
spread, with its arches and Doric pillars, forms a grace-
ful background displaying the purity of Murillo's archi-
tectural taste."

Among the pictures of this "ehereSainte Elisabeth,"
I am tempted to include one in vcr.se, which, in its
vivid graphic power and truth of detail, may be com-



35 6 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

pared to Murillo. In the Erlinde of Wolf von Goethe
(the accomplished grandson of the great poet), a laugh-
ing dame ridicules the saintly charity of Elizabeth and
the austerity of her court, where to cook for the sick
and to serve beggars was the vocation —

Sflr KvanU fodjen un& fur Settler fparett,
2Btrfc *wt frerlancjt.

Another lady, who had formerly attended on Elizabeth,
thus replies : —

" Deride not thou that saintly name ! I see
That mild face now, as she so cheerfully
Trod the rough path that down the Wartburg goes
To where the hospital she founded rose.
We, stumbling on, drawing our robes aside,
Impatient at the stones that round us lay, — '
She, floating on down the steep mountain-side,
Spite of the rugged path and toilsome way ; —
Then, like a hive, the hospital began
To stir, and send forth greetings glad and loud ;
The sickly children tottering towards her ran,
And from the windows looked a sick and aged crowd.

But the poor cripple (ofttimes scorned and vexed),

The idiots by their painful lot perplexed,—

These, who found scoffs and shame their bitter part,

Were still the dearest to her pious heart :

They hung upon her robe with joyous cries,

And gazed with love into her loving eyes.

The sick and dying when she strove to cheer,

Through the long room the cry arose — ' Here ! Oh, here ! '

With tender care their wounds she drest,

And laid the suffering to rest :

With softest words she calmed th' impatient mood ;

And if the handmaids who around her stood

Sought in her ministry to share,

The sick would suffer only her sweet care,

And her fair hands were kissed, her name was blest !

Deep in my heart these pious deeds I kept,
Nor could I rest to see her stand,
Drest in coarse serge — of gold and gem bereft —
Near the rich jewelled ladies of the land.



ST. ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY. 357

Oft would I throw my splendid robes aside,

And often to the wretched serfs would go

(Near Eisenach, where she sometimes would abide)

And give, like her, gold to relieve their woe.

But as she did — how vainly have I tried,

Life, love, and joy renouncing, all to bring

Unto our Lord as the best offering ! " *

* "Erlinde," ersten Abtheilung, p. 25.

Sie (jeU'^e gran bevJVorte nid)t!

3d) frtje nod) tin' mtlberf '•tfna.e|td)t,

2Benn jte t>cn 9>fat>, ber )td) toon 2Bartbnra, UMitbet,

gum #of»ita(e ftrea;, barf fte geanlnbet.

2Benn Itrit tool! Una,ebntb bie SRScte raypten,

23alb r)ter()tn unb balb tordftn tayrten,

@d)ien fte berf rauben 2Begerf troft ju fchfteben,

Unb toie in einem aSienenbanrf,

23eaann erf tm ©vital jit (efcen.

Sie franfen Winter ffctvertcn belebt beranrf.

■■Urn genffer jei^ten jtcb bie atren @d)tt?ad)en.

Sie &ruppe(ew, Me anb're oft beladjen

Sic blooen ©innerf, eft toerfpotrer unb betrabr,

@ie bat tie fromine 3rau am inniaftcit geliebt.

@ie fytngett jtd) mit flamm Slice" an ibr Q3ett>anb,

Wit off' nem Sftunce lad)enb, an fte feff a.ebannt.

Unb trat jte cin, wo fd)mere @ied)e lagen,

3) a auto, erf an cin SRtifen, an cin §tacjen.

„ gu mtr," — „ git mir," fo fdpoH erf fcuvd) ben ©aal ;

Sic etlen @d)aben cbnc ^a(?t

SSevbanb fte, bettete Me jtranfen ;

Sic 3ornia.en, mit unnennbarer #tilb,

(rrmabnte fte $tt freunblidjer (Seoulb.

Sarf war cin #anbtu)]en, ©ea.nen, San ten.

Hnb tootle' and; cine OERaab )td) uberrotnben,

Sod; lief eon tbr tein .^ranterf |td) toerbinben.

(Jrf mufSt' tm Jnnern mid; erfaifen,

Xief fold)e SrSminigteit.

SRir xoollt' erf teine £Ru(je lajfcn,

2Benn fte im groben jtletb

23ei ftolj cjepuftten S^uen jtanb.

:0ft n>avf id; ab oarf <puinta,ewanb.



358 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

St. Elizabeth of Portugal, another queenly
saint who wears the Franciscan habit, was the grand-
niece of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and daughter of
Peter III. king of Aragon. She was married young
to Dionysius, king of Portugal, a wise, just, and for-
tunate prince as regarded his people ; faithless, profli-
gate, and cruel in his conjugal and domestic relations.
Elizabeth, after a long and unhappy marriage, was left
a widow in 1325, and died in 1336 at the age of sixty-
five. Having been canonized late by Urban VIII.
(in 1625), she does not appear in early pictures; and,
as I think, only in Spanish and Portuguese art, for I
can recollect no instance in Italian or German pictures.
She is represented, like Elizabeth of Hungary, in the
habit of a Franciscan nun, or a widow's hood and veil,
over which she wears the royal crown : she is usually
dispensing alms, and distinguished from the other St.
Elizabeth by her venerable age, or by having the arms
of Portugal or Aragon placed in some part of the pict-
ure. Mr. Stirling mentions " a fine composition from
her exemplary life," by Carreno de Miranda, but not
the scene or subject chosen. Pictures of this sainted
queen, so very rarely met with, ought to excite some
interest and attention. She is remarkable for three
things, besides the usual amount of prayers, penances,
miracles, and charities which go to the making of a
saint : — for forty years of unfailing patience under a
wifely martyrdom almost intolerable ; — for having been
on every occasion the peacemaker and reconciling angel

>3ur (e£ten £utre bin id; (jingeeiCt,
2Benn fie in (rtfenacl; revnmlt ;
Sen fletnen (Sdjaft rrieb e$ mid;, (jinutcjebeit,
2Bte fte, fcen <Sd;\t>aa)en Xrojt ju btingen ;
3)od) nimtner tooflt' e£ miv gelingen
3)em #erm mem aanjetf Xljun nnb lebeit
(rntfajjenl), ah* etn Opfer fcarjufrringen.

For the translation of this beautiful and animated picture I am
indebted to the (laughter of Barry Cornwall.



ST. LOUTS OF FRANCE. 359

between her faithless but accomplished husband and
his undutiful son, when she might easily have avenged
her wrongs, and fomented discord, by the assertion of
her own rights ; this procured her in Spain the charm-
ing title of San? Isabel de Paz ; — last, and not least,
she is the original and historical heroine of Schiller's
" Fridolin," though in the ballad and in Ketzsch's
designs the scene is transferred to Germany, and Eliza-
beth becomes " Die Gratin von Savern." I have never
met with this beautiful well-known legend with refer-
ence to Elizabeth queen of Portugal, to whom it right-
fully belongs. It is mentioned by all her biographers,
not even excepting the " Biographie Universelle." *



St. Louis of France.

Lat. Sanctus Ludovicus Rex. Ital. San Luigi, Re di Francia.

August 25, 1270.

The life of Louis IX. as King of France does not
properly belong to our subject, and may easily be re-
ferred to in the usual histories and biographies. On
his merits as a glorified saint rest his claims to a place
in sacred art ; and on these I must dwell briefly, for
the reasons given already in speaking of the canonized
kings and princes of the Benedictine Order. The
Franciscans claim St. Louis, and commemorate him in
their pictures and churches, because, according to their
annalists, he put on the habit of the " Third Order of

* In the French catalogue of the Royal Gallery at Naples there
is a picture with this title, — " Francois Albano. — Miracle de
S. Rose. Un homme assiste a l'office divin dans un chapelle dediee
a S. Rose, pendant que son ennemi court vers l'endroit oa il avait
place ses braves, pour voir si sa vengeance etait accomplie ; mais
ceux-ci s'etant mepris le brulent dans le meiue four qu'ils avaieut
prepare pour le devot." I do not remember the picture, but, from
the above ill- written, almost unintelligible description, I can just
surmise that it refers to this legend.



360 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

Penitence " before he embarked on his first crusade, and
died in the cowl and cord of St. Francis.

St. Louis was born at Poissy in 1215. His father,
Louis VIII., and his mother, Blanche of Castile, are
the Louis and Blanche who figure in Shakespeare's
" King John." During his minority his mother gov-
erned France with admirable discretion, and it is re-
corded that till his twelfth year he had no other in-
structor.

There is a very pretty story of Blanche of Castile,
which may fitly find a place here. I have never met
with any representation of it, but it would certainly
form a most graceful subject.

One day, as Queen Blanche sat in her banquet-hall
in great state, she marked, among the pages of honor
standing around, one whom she had not seen before.
Now it was the custom in those davs for the sons of
princes to be brought up in the courts of sovereigns,
and to serve as pages before they could aspire to the
honor of knighthood. Queen Blanche then, observing
this youth and admiring his noble mien, and his long,
fair hair, which, being parted on his brow, hung down
over his shoulders, she asked who he was, and they told
her that it was Prince Herman, the son of the sainted
Elizabeth of Hungary. On hearing this, Queen Blanche
rose from her seat, and, going towards the youth, she
stood and gazed upon him for a few moments with
earnest attention. Then she said, " Pair youth, thou
hadst a blessed mother ; where did she kiss thee ? "
The youth, blushing, replied by placing his finger on
his forehead between his eyes. Whereupon the queen
reverently pressed her lips to that spot, and, looking up
to heaven, breathed a " Sancta Elisabeth, Patrona nostra
dulcissima, ora pro nobis ! "

This incident appears to me very graceful and pictu-
resque in itself, and, besides its connection with the his-
tory of " la chere Sainte Elisabeth," it exhibits the
character and turn of mind of her who formed the
< lniracter of St. Louis.



ST. LOUIS OF FRANCE. 361

I have a great admiration for St. Louis, and never
could look on the effigies which represent him in his
sacred character without a deep and solemn interest.
There is not a more striking example of the manner in
which the religious enthusiasm of the time reacted on
minds of the highest natural endowments, called to the
highest duties. The talents and virtues of Louis have
never been disputed, even by those who sneered at his
fanaticism. Voltaire, not much given to eulogizing
kings, and still less saints, sums up his character by
saying, " II n'est guere donne a l'horame de pousser la
vertu plus loin ! " Gibbon allows that he united the
virtues of a king, a hero, and a man. A monument
of his love for his people and of his wisdom as sovereign
and legislator exists in his code of laws known as " the
Ordinances of St. Louis," which became as dear to the
French as the laws of Edward the Confessor had been
to the Anglo-Saxon race. He showed the possibility
of combining, as a religious king, qualities which a
Machiavelli or a Bolingbroke would have held to be
incompatible; — the most tender humanity, unblemished
truth, inflexible justice, and generous consideration for
the rights of other princes, — infidels excepted, — with
personal intrepidity, with all the arts of policy, with
the most determined vindication of his own power. He
was feared and respected by other nations, who made
him the umpire in their disputes : he was adored by his
subjects. His chivalrous gallantly, his respect for
women, his fidelity to his wife, his obedience to his
noble-minded mother, his tenderness for his numerous
children, complete a portrait which surely justifies the
words of Voltaire : " II n'est guere donne a l'homme
de pousser la vertu plus loin ! "

The strongest contrast that could be placed before
the fancy would be the characters of Louis IX. and
Louis XI. It would be a question, perhaps, whether
the piety of the first, or the odious tyranny of the latter,
caused, on the whole, the greatest amount of individual
misery ; but we look to the motives of the two men,



3 62 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

and to the end of time we shall continue to revere the
one and to abhor the other. True, both were supersti-
tious ; but what a difference between the superstition
of Louis XI. on his knees before " Our Lady of Clery,"
and the superstition of Louis IX. walking bareheaded
with the crown of thorns in his hand and moisteninjr it
with devout tears !

In the thirteenth century two passions were upper-
most in the minds of Christian men, — the passion for
relics and the passion for crusading.

When the Emperor Baldwin II. came to beg aid
from Louis, he secured his good-will at once by offering
to surrender the " holy crown of thorns," which for
several centuries had been preserved at Constantinople,
and had been pledged to the Venetians for a large sum



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