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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 money. Of all the relics then believed in, credible
or incredible, this, next to the " True Cross," was the
most precious and venerable in the eyes of Christians.
Louis redeemed the pledge ; granted to Baldwin suc-
cors in men and money, and then, considering himself
enriched by the exchange, he brought the Crown of
Thorns to Paris, carrying it himself from Sens, barefoot
and bareheaded : having been so thrice happy as to
obtain also a small piece of the True Cross, he built
in honor of these treasures the chapel since called La
Sainte Chapelle (Paris), one of the most perfect and
exquisite monuments of the artistic skill of the middle
ages.

In the year 1247 Louis was seized with a dangerous
malady ; his life was despaired of, but, after lying for
some hours insensible in a kind of trance, lie revived,
and the first words he uttered were, " La Lumiere dc
l'Orient s'est re'pandu du haut du ciel sur moi par la
grace du Seigneur, et m'a rappele d'entre les morts ! "
He then called for the Archbishop of Paris, and desired
to receive from his hands the cross of a crusader. In
spite of the grief of his wife, the remonstrances of his
mother, the warnings of his prelates and of his wisest
counsellors, he persisted in his resolve ; and the Arch-



ST. LOUIS OF FRANCE. 363

bishop of Paris, with tears and audible sobs, affixed the
cross to his dress. In the next year, as soon as his
health would permit, and accompanied by his wife, his
brothers, and the flower of his nobility, he embarked
for Egypt, with a fleet of eighteen hundred sail, and an
army of fifty thousand men.

I need not dwell on the horrors and disasters of that
campaign. The result was, that after seeing one of his
brothers, and most of his followers perish, — after
slaughter, famine, pestilence, and, worse than all, their
own vices and excesses, had conspired to ruin his army,
— Louis was taken prisoner. Throughout these re-
verses, amid these indescribable horrors, when the
" Greek fire " fell among his maddened troops, no doubt
entered the mind of Louis that he was right in the sight
of God. If not destined to conquer, he believed him-
self called to martyrdom : he regarded as martyrs those
of his people who perished round him : his faith, his
patience, his devout reliance on the goodness of his
cause, his tender care for his followers, with whom or
for whom he every hour hazarded his life, never wav-
ered for one moment. He was ransomed at length, and
passed from Egypt to Palestine, where he spent three
years. He then returned to France. He reigned for
sixteen years wisely and well, recruited his finances,
enlarged the bounds of his kingdom, saw a new genera-
tion of warriors spring up around him, and then, never
having laid aside the cross, he set forth on a second
crusade. A wild hope of baptizing the King of Tunis
induced him to land in Africa ; his troops again per-
ished of some terrible malady caused by the climate,
and Louis himself, after dictating to his son Philip
some of the wisest precepts that ever fell from the lips
of a sovereign, expired in his tent, laid on ashes as a
penitent, and wearing, as the Franciscans assert, the
humble habit of their Order.

He was canonized by Boniface VIII. in 1297, twenty-
seven vears after his death. Part of his body was car-
ried by Charles of Anjou to his capital, Palermo, and



364 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

deposited in the magnificent church of Monreale : the
rest was enshrined at Saint Denis. His remains and
his shrine were destroyed and desecrated in the first
French Revolution.

The devotional figures of St. Louis represent him
with his proper attribute, the crown of thorns, which he
reverently holds in one hand ; his sword in the other,
and the crown and sceptre of i*oyalty at his feet : when
painted for the Franciscans in the gray habit and cord
of the Tiers-Ordre, they are careful to place his cliadem
on his head. In the French type, of course the best
authority, he is beardless ; but the Italian and Spanish
painters sometimes give him a long beard, as in a little
figure by Raphael, in the collection of Lord Ward.

In an ancient fresco of the Crucifixion, St. Louis
stands on one side of the cross, wearing the Franciscan
habit, and crowned. (Florence, S. Croce.)

" St. Louis praying for the city of Paris." He is
attended by two angels, one of whom bears the crown
of thorns, the other a nail from the cross.

St. Louis in a Holy Family (C. Coello, Madrid
Gal.) : his sword in one hand, the crown of thorns in
the other ; his crown and sceptre at his feet. On the
other side St. Elizabeth offers a basket of roses to the
Infant Saviour.

The most ancient series from his life is that which
was painted on the windows of his chapel at St. Denis.

1 . He departs on his first crusade, inscribed, " Louis
s'en va sur mer."

2. Being in prison in Efjypt, a monk consoles him.

3. He instructs his children, three of whom are at
his feet.

4. " II se fait donner la discipline. " He is scourged
by two monks.

5. He is collecting relics, which he is putting into a
bag.

6. He places a poor leper in his own bed.

7. His death. His soul is carried by angels into
heaven.



ST. ISABELLA OF FRANCE. 365

8. Miracles performed by him after his death.

These curious specimens of art are engraved in Le
Noir's " Musee des Monumens Franeais."

I have also met with the following historical sub-
jects : —

St. Louis bestows on Bartolomeo of Braganza a piece
of the true cross, and a thorn from the crown of thorns.
Queen Margaret and several attendants are grouped
around them. (Parma, Church of San Luigi.)

St. Louis sends missionaries to the East ; in a bas-
relief. (Paris, Invalides.)

He was, as we have seen, a great collector of relics.
In the Trinita at Florence there is a picture which repre-
sents him receiving with great reverence the hand of
St. John Gualberto, presented by Benizio, abbot of
Vallombrosa.

St. Isabella of France was the sister of St. Louis.
She, as well as her brother, was educated by their ad-
mirable and energetic mother, Blanche of Castile. She
expended her dowry in founding the celebrated convent
of Longchamps, which she dedicated to the " Humility
of the Blessed Virgin." Before the Revolution this
was a rich nunnery of " Poor Clares." Isabella was
canonized by Pope Leo X. at the request of the nuns of
Longchamps ; and, as long as that convent existed, her
festival was celebrated there with great magnificence.

Pictures of St. Isabella are to be found in the churches
in Paris, but all are works of modern art. She is usually
represented in the habit of a Franciscan nun, and in the
act of distributing alms or food to the poor.

The best picture of her which I can remember is a
graceful figure by Philip de Champagne in the church
of St. Paul-et-St. Louis.



366 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.
St. Louis of Toulouse.

Ital. San Ludovico Vescovo. August 19, 1297.

Louis of Anjou was the nephew of St. Louis, king
of France, and son of Charles of Anjou, king of Naples
and Sicily. His mother, Maria of Hungary, who had
the direction of his education in childhood, brought him
up in habits of piety and self-denial. " It is no hard-
ship," she said, " for a Christian to practise, for the sake
of virtue, that sevei'e sobriety which the Lacedaemonians
and other warlike nations exacted from their children
for the attainment of martial strength and hardihood."

It happened that, when Louis was only fourteen, his
father was taken prisoner by the king of Aragon; and
was obliged to deliver up his three sons, with several
of his nobles, as hostages. Louis spent several years
in captivity. The inhumanity exercised towards him-
self and the other hostages, according to the barbarous
customs of that period, broke altogether a spirit nat-
urally gentle and contemplative. A sense of the insta-
bility of human greatness caused a feeling of disgust
against the world, and an indifference to the rank to
which he was born. On resraininc his libertv in 1294,
he yielded all his rights to the kingdom of Naples to
his brother Robert, divested himself wholly of all his
princely and secular dignities, and received the tonsure
and the habit of St. Francis at the age of twenty-two.
Soon afterwards, Pope Boniface nominated him Bishop
of Toulouse. He travelled to take possession of his
bishopric, barefoot, and in his friar's habit; and, during
the short remainder of his life, endeared himself to his
people by the practice of every virtue. Travelling into
Provence in the discharge of his charitable duties, lie
came to his father's castle of Brignolles, where he first
saw the light, and died there in his twenty-fourth year.
He was canonized in 1317 by Pope John XXII., and
his body, which was first deposited with the Francis-
cans at Marseilles, w r as afterwards carried away by Al-
phonso of Aragon, and enshrined at Valencia.



ST. LOUIS OF TOULOUSE. 367

Louis, bishop of Toulouse, is in general represented
as youthful, beardless, and with a mild expression ;
wearing his episcopal robes over his Franciscan habit.
His cope is sometimes richly embroidered with golden
fleurs-de-Ivs upon a blue ground, or the fleur-de-lys is
introduced as an ornament on some part of his dress :
or a crown and sceptre lie at his feet, alluding to his
rejected kingdom of Naples. He wears the mitre as
bishop, or he carries it in his hand, or it is borne by
an angel.

In the altar-pieces of the Franciscan convents and
churches he is often grouped with the other saints of
his Order ; as in a beautiful picture by Moretto, in
which he stands with Sau Bernardino (Milan, Brera) :
in another by Cosimo Roselli, a Coronation of the
Virgin, in which he stands with St. Bonaventura.
(Louvre, No. 1204.)

St. Louis is also conspicuous in a large picture by
Carlo Crivelli (Gal. of Lord Ward), formerly in the
Brera, and certainly painted as an altar-piece for one
of the great Franciscan churches in the North of Italy.
In the centre is the Virgin enthroned : on her knee the
Infant Christ, from whom St. Peter, kneeling rever-
ently, receives the mystical keys ; an altogether poetical
version of the subject, as I have already observed. (Sa-
cred and Legend. Art.) On one' side is a martyr-
bishop, no otherwise distinguished than by his palm ; *
behind him St. Bernardino of Siena, with the standard
as preacher. On the other side stands St. Louis of
Toulouse ; behind him, St. Bonaventura with the sacra-
mental cup, while the Host is suspended from heaven
above his head. St. Francis and St. Augustine, as the
two patriarchs of the Order, look out from behind the
throne.

* There is reason to suppose that the picture was painted at
Ascoli, in the March of Ancona (v. C Ape Italiana, vol. iv.). In
that case the bishop represented is probably Sant' Emigio (Lat.
Emygrdius), the first bishop and patron of the city of Ascoli, and
martyred about the year 30S.



368 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

I have never met with any pictures from his life.
" The death of St. Louis of Toulouse," bv B. Bonfigli,
is engraved by Rossini : the subject appears to me
rather doubtful.



Having been, perhaps, diffuse in my account of the
eight principal Franciscan Saints, because of their uni-
versality and the interest and beauty of the works of
art in which they appear, I shall deal more briefly with
the others, who are rarely met with, and are for the
most part confined to particular countries and localities.

St. Margaret, styled of Cortona, from the name
of the city which was the scene of her penitence and of
her death, was a native of Alviano, near Chiusi in
Tuscany. She lost her mother in early infancy, and,
being driven from home by a " father cruel, and a step-
dame false," she took to evil courses, and led for nine
or ten years an abandoned life in her native place.
One of her lovers was a gentleman of Montepulciano.
After paying her a visit, he was waylaid and assassi-
nated by robbers. A little dog which had accompanied
him returned to his mistress, and, pulling her by the
gown, and whining in a most lamentable manner, en-
deavored to induce her to follow. She, after a time,
surprised at the absence of her lover, went forth, and,
guided by the dog, she found his body hidden under
some bushes, covered with wounds, and in a horrible
state of decay. Appalled by the spectacle, and seized
with compunction, she returned a weeping penitent to
the house of her father; but as she knelt upon the
threshold, he, being instigated by the step-mother, closed
the door against her : whereupon she took refuge in a
neighboring vjneyard, and sat down. While thus for-
saken by all human help, all human pity, a tempting
demon whispered that it would be better for her to re-
turn to her former way of life than remain there and
die. But she prayed most earnestly that, in this strait,
God would not abandon her but be to her father



ST. MARGARET OF CORTOXA. 369

mother, lover, protector, lord, all that she had lost.
She did not pray in vain, for it was miraculously re-
vealed to her that her prayer was accepted ; that she
should repair to Cortona, and to the convent of Fran-
ciscans there : which she did, and entering the church
barefoot, with a rope round her neck, she cast herself
down before the altar, and entreated to be admitted as
a penitent into the Order. But such had been her evil
life, and such her bad reputation, that the brotherhood
refused to admit her till she had given proofs of her
sincere repentance, and of such humility, charity, and
purity of life as changed their distrust into admiration.
She took the habit of the Third Order of St. Francis
in 1272. It is related, that as she knelt one day before
the image of the crucified Redeemer, he bent his head
in compassion and forgiveness. She was regarded
from that time with a religious reverence by the people
of Cortona ; and became the local Magdalene.

There are few pictures of this interesting saint, who
is little known out of Tuscany. She is usually repre-
sented as young and beautiful ; veiled ; not always in
the gray habit proper to a professed Franciscan nun,
but in a dress checkered like a plaid (the coarse woollen
manufacture of the. country), and a cloak thrown over
it ; with the cord as girdle, showing that she was a
member of the Third Order. A little dog, generally a
spaniel, is at her feet ; this is her proper attribute. The
dog is with propriety omitted in the finest devotional
effigy I can refer to : in the Assumption of the Virgin
(Pitti Pal.), painted by Andrea del Sarto for the Duomo
at Cortona, where St. Margaret is kneeling in front of
the twelve apostles, and looking up.

In a picture by Lan franco (Pitti Pal.) she is sustained
in the arms of angels ; here the dog is not omitted.

Her beautiful church, and the adjoining convent with
its cypress-grove, crown the highest point of the hill on
which stands Cortona, girt with its Cyclopean walls,
older than those of Troy ; and as we toil up the stony
winding path, we pause at every opening to look down
24



37 o LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

upon the lake of Thrasymene, — over the battle-field
where the Roman legions encountered the forces of
Hannibal, and left the plain strown with their dead
and the rivulets running with their blood. From these
terrible and magnificent associations, we turn, at length,
to enter the church of the lowly Penitent, where the
first thing that strikes us is her statue in white marble,
standing out of the shadowy gloom, cold, calm, and
pale, her dog crouching at her feet. Her shrine, in
which she lies beneath the high altar, is faced with sil-
ver in very modern taste. The ancient tomb which
contained her remains before she was canonized is now
preserved in a small chapel adjoining the church. It
is placed over a door. She lies extended under a
double Gothic arch, the canopy over her head sustained
by lovely angels : her face is beautiful ; the attitude
particularly simple and graceful, and the drapery so
disposed as to show that, beneath its folds, her hands
are clasped in prayer. The lower part of the tomb is
adorned with four bas-reliefs. On one side she takes
the penitential habit; on the other she dies and her
spirit is borne into heaven. The two central compart-
ments struck me as beautifully significant and appro-
priate with reference to the history of the saint : — 1.
The Magdalene anointing the feet of our Saviour, ex-
pressing the pardoning grace which had redeemed her.
2. The raising of Lazarus, expressing her hopes of res-
urrection. The whole exceedingly beautiful and in
the finest taste of the best time of Gothic art, — about
the end of the thirteenth century.

In the portico of the same church is a quaint old
fresco, representing St. Margaret at the moment she
discovers the body of her lover.

When Pietro di Cortona was ennobled by his native
city, he testified his gratitude by presenting a crown of
gold to the shrine of St. Margaret, of whom he painted
several pictures.

There is a very beautiful drawing by this master in the
Goethe Collection at Weimar, representing St. Margaret



ST. IVES OF BRET AG NE. 371

of Cortona at the foot of the crucifix ; and so expressive,
that I have thought it might have suggested to Goethe
the scene of the penitence of Margaret in the " Faust."



St. Ives of Bretagne, whose proper style is
" Saint Yves-Helori, Avocat des Pauvres," is claimed
by the Franciscans on rather uncertain grounds. They
assert that he took the habit of the Third Order of this
Community at Quimper in 1283. This being denied,
or at least doubted, by the Jesuit authorities, it has
followed that in pictures painted for the Franciscan
churches he wears the knotted cord, and in those
painted for the Jesuits it is omitted. But wherever
- we find him, — in church, chapel, or gallery, — we may
be sure that the effigy was painted for, or dedicated by,
one of the legal profession.

This famous saint — of whom it was wickedly said
that the lawyers had chosen him for their patron, but
not their pattern — was born in 1 253. He was descended
from a noble family in Bretagne. His mother, Aza Du
Plessis, attended carefully to his early education ; from
her he derived his habits of truth, his love of justice, his
enthusiastic piety. When quite a child he was heard
to declare he would be a saint, — just as a lively boy
of our own times announces his intention to be admiral
or lord chancellor ; — and in this saintly ambition his
mother encouraged him.

At the age of fourteen he was sent to Paris, to study
jurisprudence, and afterwards to Orleans, where he
made himself master of civil and canon law. But,
true to his first vocation, he lived in these cities the life
of an anchorite, and the hours not devoted to study
were given to religious meditation and to the most
active charity. On his return to his own country his
parents wished him to marry, but he had already made
a secret vow of celibacy, to which he adhered during
the rest of his life.

About this time he studied theology under a learned



372 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

Franciscan friar, and henceforth he made the Holy Scrip-
tures his guide and interpreter in his legal knowledge.
When he was about thirty, the Bishop of Treguier ap-
pointed him Judge Advocate of his diocese. In this
office his profound knowledge of law, his piety, and his
charity were equally conspicuous. He pleaded gratui-
tously the cause of the widows and orphans : and when
adverse parties were brought before him, he exhorted
them, in the most moving language, to be reconciled
as Christians, and often settled their differences without
the intervention of the law. After some years spent in
the exercise of every virtue, he entered the priesthood.
On the eve of his ordination, he went to the hospital
where he had been accustomed to minister to the poor
and sick, and, taking off his legal habiliments, his furred
gown, his tippet, his bonnet, and his boots, he distrib-
uted them to four poor old men. He retired thence
bareheaded and barefoot. He afterwards united his
duties of pastor with those of advocate of the poor ; still
using his legal knowledge to defend the cause of the des-
. titute and the oppressed, and leading the life of an apostle
and minister of religion, while conducting the most
complicated legal affairs of the diocese. His health
sank under his official labors and his religious austeri-
ties, and he died, at the age of fifty, in the year 1303.

His countrymen of Bretagne, who idolized him while
living, regarded him as a saint when dead ; and Jean
de Montfort, duke of Bretagne, went himself to Av-
ignon, then the seat of the popes, to solicit his canoniza-
tion. It was granted by Clement VI. in 1347. Since
then, St. Ives has been honored as the patron saint of
lawyers, not merely in Basse-Bretagne, but all over
Europe. Through the intercourse between our southern
shores and those of Brittany, St. Ives was very early
introduced into England, and by our forefathers held in
great reverence.

Pictures of this good saint are not common, but they
are very peculiar and interesting and easily recognized.
He has no especial attribute, but is always represented



ST. ELEAZAR. 373

in bis legal attire, as Judge, or as Doctor of Laws,
holding a paper in his hand ; sometimes his furred
robe is girded with the Franciscan cord. In a picture
by Empoli (Florence Gal.), he is seated on a throne,
wearing the lawyer's bonnet, the glory round his head ;
before his throne stand various persons of all classes,
rich and poor, widows and orphans, to whom he is dis-
pensing justice. The costume is not that of the thir-
teenth, but the seventeenth century. In a picture by De
Klerck (Brussels), he rejects a bribe. In a picture by
Kubens (Louvain), he stands as patron saint, attired as
" Docteur en Droit " : a widow and an orphan are
kneeling at his feet. In another picture by Empoli
(Louvre) he is kneeling, and St. Luke presents him to
the Virgin and Child, who are seen above.



The Franciscans are rich in princely saints ; besides
those already mentioned we have another in St. Elzear
or Eleazar, Count of Sabran in 1300. He had, like
most other saints, a wise and pious mother, who loved,
him infinitely, but prayed in his infancy that he might
be taken away from her then, rather than live to be
unacceptable to his Maker. He was married young to
Delphine, heiress of Glendenes, with whom he lived
in the strictest continence and harmony, and both were
equally remarkable for their enthusiastic piety and de-
votion. " Let none imagine," says the writer of his
life, " that true devotion consists in spending all our
time in prayer or falling into a slothful and faithless
neglect of our temporal concerns. It is a solid virtue
to be able to do the business we undertake well and
truly." The piety of Eleazar rendered him more
honest, prudent, and dexterous in the management of
temporal affairs, public and private, valiant in war,
active and prudent in peace, and diligent in the care
of his household. His wife Delphine emulated him in
every virtue ; both enrolled themselves in the Third
Order of St. Francis, and, after the death of Eleazar at



374 LEGENDS OF THE MONASTIC ORDERS.

the age of twenty-eight, Dclphine, after residing for
some years with her friend Sancha, Queen of Naples
(widow of Robert of Anjou, who was the brother of
St. Louis of Toulouse), withdrew to complete seclusion,
and died very old about 1369.

St. Eleazar and St. Delphine appear in the Fran-
ciscan pictures, generally together. They are richly
dressed, and St. Eleazar is distinguished by holding in
his hand a bundle of papers, from which seals are de-
pending, in allusion to the following beautiful incident.
After his father's death, while looking over his papers,
he discovered certain letters containing the most false
and bitter calumnies against himself, even urging his
father to disinherit him, as unfit to reign, &c. He was
urged to avenge himself on the traitor ; but, instead of
doing so, he sent for him, burned the letters in his
presence, forgave him, and dismissed him with kind
words and gifts, so that he converted a secret enemy
into an open, true, and devoted friend. In the picture
of Morando, already mentioned, St. Eleazar appears
^without his wife, holding sealed papers in his hand.



The St. Rosa di Viterbo who figures in that city,
and in the churches on the road between Monte Pul-
ciano and Rome, with her gray tunic, her knotted girdle,
and her chaplet of roses, was not a professed nun, but



Online LibraryMrs. (Anna) JamesonLegends of the monastic orders, as represented in the fine arts. Forming the second series of Sacred and legendary art → online text (page 31 of 41)