Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary ~ James Powell and Sons, 1938

This beautiful window was commissioned in 1938 to be made by James Powell & Sons Whitefriars in memory of Josephine E. Hoyt (1844-1923); it was given to St. John’s by her daughter, Eva H. Hoyt. It was designed by James Hogan, artistic director and chief designer at Whitefriars at the time; it was an original design.

St. Elizabeth was born in 1207, the daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary; she was very devout and devoted her life to charity. Betrothed at the age of four to Louis (Ludwig), the son of Landgrave Herman I of Thuringia, Elizabeth was raised at the court of her future in-laws. She was taunted for her faith by her caretakers in Thuringia. When Louis succeeded his father in 1221, he and Elizabeth were married. It was a very happy marriage, and they had three or four children (accounts vary). But their happy life together was short; Louis felt called to go on a Crusade in 1229 and died of the plague in the Holy Land three months later.

Louis’s brother usurped the throne and forced Elizabeth and her children to leave court in the dead of winter. After finding suitable people to take care of her children, she put herself into a very strict convent under the guidance of a severe spiritual mentor. She lived in dire poverty and privation in Bamberg where she spent her time ministering to the poor. Her charity and generosity were legendary, even while she was married to Louis. She founded many hospitals and was especially concerned with the plight of lepers and orphans.

One story in her legend says that on one of her missions of charity, she came upon a child with leprosy who had been cast out of his house. She brought the child home and put him to bed in her own bed. When her husband heard of it and came in to see him, ready to reproach Elizabeth, he turned back the covers, and they saw the Christ Child smiling at them. Then the child vanished.

Shortly before her death at the age of 24, her son regained control of the government of Thuringia and summoned her back to court. Elizabeth was canonized in 1235 by Pope Gregory IX. The shrine of her remains in Marburg was a popular pilgrimage in the middle ages. Her feast day is November 19.

She is usually depicted holding a basket of roses because of another story in her legend, which tells of her going out to distribute bread to the poor. Louis happens upon her, and the bread was miraculously changed into roses to hide her true mission. Records show, however, that Louis was very supportive of her charity.

In this window, St. Elizabeth is standing in a canopied niche, holding the basket of roses. Around her in the background are four smaller pictures of her, two wearing the plain brown habit of a penitent nun. She is with the symbols of faith (cross-top left), hope (anchor-top right), charity (heart-bottom left) and meekness (yoke-bottom right). In the brilliant blue leaf-patterned background around her are embedded five Gothic ‘E’s.

Click the image for the full sized version

Location: To the left of the altar in the north transcept chapel.
Inscription:  In Loving Memory of Josephine E. Hoyt July 1844 Mar 1923.