Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: The Iconography
St. Elizabeth, daughter of the King of Hungary and wife of the Landgrave of Thuringia, was a Franciscan tertiary (Butler, IV, 388). The Golden Legend emphasizes her works of charity, so in images she is often dressed in a Franciscan habit giving food or other assistance to the poor, as in the first picture at right, or in portraits with a basket of bread or flowers, as in the second and third pictures respectively.

The alternation between bread and flowers may be due to a borrowing from the story of St. Casilda, whose Saracen father caught her taking a basket of food to Christian prisoners. When he looked into the basket, he found only roses.

Being of royal birth and marriage, St. Elizabeth is sometimes shown with a crown, such as the very modest one in this fresco.


  • Lived 1207-1231


Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-10-30.


St. Elizabeth Clothes the Poor and Tends the Sick, 1390s (See the description page)

St. Elizabeth with her basket of bread (Flemish manuscript illustration – see the description page)

In Taddeo di Bartolo's painting (14th/15th century) the basket has flowers rather than bread. (See the description page)