Monday, February 22, 2010

St. Elisabeth with Marija Brežice at Saint Lawrence

There are national Madonnas. The US southwest and Mexico have Our Lady of Guadalupe, the english had Our Lady of Walsingham [until the protestants burned the statue], the poles have the Czarna (Black) Madonna, all the slavs have Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The particular one the slovenes have is Marija Brežice. The slovene parish in Cleveland targeted for extinction by Richie Lennon is St. Lawrence. There they have a chapel with a painting of her.
In the chapel there are three windows. One is plain and is lit from the narthex [vestibule]. One is hidden by the top of the woodwork, of the shrine that holds the painting, and only the top with part of the edge decoration, and part of a cloudy sky shown. From the current visitor's view the subject‡ is unknown. No one has seen it for years, perhaps, the next to see it will be the workman the bishop brings in to strip the church of furniture, and sacred art. This obscuring happens elsewhere when altars, and shrines, have extensive woodwork or paneling. Sometimes, one can see some of a window between the crockets, finials, and fretwork, or go to the side, or behind the wood. Here it is obscured by the top archwood, and there is no space for creature larger than your hand to go. Sometimes, windows are covered by a new ceiling, such as Sacred Heart of Jesus, also nearby, and targeted for extinction, where they had fourteen stations of the cross on a choir window, now there is ten stations visible.
The remaining window has the princess Saint Elisabeth of Hungary and Thuringia *1207, †1231. Her face is painted on a circle of white glass, and is sometimes bleached out by sunlight, but sometimes a close focus will bring the face out. It is the nature of stain glass, it changes with the light. It was designed for the sun to illuminate it, and the incoming sunlight is even more variable in a cloudy climate; and of course you see nothing at night, unless there is a streetlight behind it, but the resulting illumination is weak. To truly enjoy, and catch all of such a window, one needs to see it several times, and in different weather conditions.
How does one know the window is of Elisabeth? She has a loaf of bread in one hand, and in the other she scoops her dress into being a cloth vase for roses. She was given to great charity. She was an early secular franciscan, and is often depicted in franciscan churches. The legend is that she while giving bread to the poor, she was discovered, and the bread had turned to roses. A similar legend is told of her grand niece, St. Elisabeth of Aragon *1271,†1336, Santa Isabel, Queen of Portugal. Saint Zita *1212,†1272, the house servant of Lucca, also.§ But, in the window, the saint seems to have a crown.

Elisabeth was widowed, with three children, and was buffeted by religious and political intrigue in her life and death. Her shrine in a church of Marburg, Hesse, was disturbed, for a descendant, Philip, had become a protector of Luther and brought protestantism to the region. Later the swedes plundered the site in the next century. But Elisabeth is always remembered for her loving charity.
Postscriptum: To my surprise, I was asked to write and post fotos of the windows of this parish church. This is the second, click here for the first.
‡On the outside the window is covered by an opaque protective window. One can barely see anything, but it can very well be Marija Brežice, a slovene variant of Our Lady of Succour, or possibly another Madonna and Child.
§ Zita had gotten in trouble for constantly feeding beggars at the door, and she is often pictured with a beggar.
Her body is incorrupt. The title block may decide identification [of the donor]:

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