Today, 19th November, is the feast day of St Elizabeth of Hungary. She is best known for her charitable work, caring for and giving alms to the poor.
St Elizabeth grew up in the castle in Bratislava (formerly Hungary). The daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, the neice of St Hedwig, the great aunt of another St Elizabeth (Isabel) of Portugal she married to Ludwig IV of Thuringia. During her marriage she regularly distributed alms to the poor and built a hospital the patients of which she visited daily. Widowed young she devoted herself to good works dying at just 24. She had a great devotion to St Francis.
St Elizabeth is the patron saint of bakers, countesses, deaths of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, tertiaries, widows and young brides. She is often depicted with alms, flowers, bread, a pitcher and the poor.
I recently visited the Church of St Elizabeth in Bratislava and was captivated by its unusual Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture. Situated a little out of the city's bustling centre in the old town, it is more generally referred to as the Blue Church.
It was built between 1906 and 1908 and designed by Odon Lechner, the most important art nouveau architect in Hungary. He was influenced by a wide range of styles in particular Magyar and Turkic folk art and these influences are responsible the eastern like appearance of much of his work.
Whilst originally decorated in pastel colours, its distinctive blue came later. It is decorated with mosaics, majolicas and has a blue glazed roof. Over the door is a mosaic of St Elizabeth. The Church has a single nave.
Whilst it certainly is an interesting and unusual design when seen from a distance as one approaches one really begins to appreciate the attention to detail that has gone into this unusual building, one quite unlike any church I had seen before. For me it brought to mind the phrase, God is in the detail. The pictures really cannot do it justice.
St Elizabeth pray for us.