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The Saints In Art - E

( Originally Published 1908 )

EDMUND, ST. (King and Martyr). (20th November)

A king of the East Angles, who, after being defeated in battle by the Danes, in 870, was shot at with arrows, and then beheaded. The story runs that when his followers sought for his body they found a huge grey wolf reverently watching over it. They bore it away, the wolf quietly following, and interred it at the town since called Bury St. Edmund's, where his shrine became famous, and a place of pilgrimage.

He is represented with an arrow in his hand ; sometimes the grey wolf crouches at his feet.


His history as king of England need not here be dealt with. He is the subject of many legends, of which the following is the most important. One day, returning from Mass at Westminster, he gave his ring to a pilgrim, who asked an alms for the love of GOD and St. John. Twenty-four years later, two English pilgrims, returning from the Holy Land, met another pilgrim, who announced himself to them as St. John, and sent word by them to King Edward, that he thanked him for his alms, and that in six months he should be with him for ever. This message gave the King great joy, and he died, as predicted, on 5th January 1066.

He is represented crowned, in royal robes, the sceptre (surmounted with a dove) in one hand, in the other the ring of St. John.

ELIZABETH, ST. (mother of St. John the Baptist, Biblical). (10th February)

ELIZABETH, ST. (of Hungary). (10th November)

Born in 1207, daughter of Andreas II., King of Hungary, she became in the Middle Ages the traditional type of female charity. Even from babyhood she showed extreme virtue, and when about four was betrothed to Prince Louis of Thuringia. Brought up at the court of her future husband, whose relations mocked at her piety, she was in due time married to him. She continued her life of devotion and charity, giving away even the royal mantle from her shoulders to a beggar, and visiting the poor and sick. It was related that one day, finding a child with leprosy cast out from his home, she took him in her arms to the castle and laid him in her own bed. When her husband returned, he went, with reproaches on his lips, and lifted the coverlet from the child. To their astonishment in its place lay the Infant CHRIST, who smiled and vanished. Another day Louis met her carrying in her robe a supply of food for the poor. She was ashamed when he asked her what she was carrying, but when he insisted on looking, nothing was there but red and white roses. So her charities continued. At length Louis was called upon to go on the Third Crusade, and, to their great grief, parting was inevitable. He never returned, and his brothers seized his domains, and turned Elizabeth and her four children out of their home in midwinter. Later on her son was reinstated, but St. Elizabeth gave herself up to a life of piety and the most rigorous penance, till she died, at the age of twenty-four.

She is generally represented crowned, sometimes as a nun, with her lap full of bread, or of roses, and often giving charity to a beggar, or a sick child.

Fresco by Giotto in Santa Croce, Florence.

ELOY, ST., or ST. LOO (Lat. S. ELIGIUS ; Ital. SANT ALÔ or LO or ELIGIO) (Patron of Goldsmiths, Blacksmiths, and Workers in Metal). (1st December)

A goldsmith at Limoges, in the seventh century. He went to Paris, where, by his skill as a workman, he won great favour with King Clotaire II., and his successor, King Dagobert, both of whom employed him in affairs of State. He afterwards became Bishop of Noyon, but, according to the legend, still worked at his trade, making shrines and Church ornaments. He was much beset by the devil, who even took possession of a horse brought to him to be shod, which was so unmanageable that the bystanders fled ; but St. Eloy cut off its leg, fixed on the shoe, and then, making the sign of the cross, replaced it on the body.

He is represented either as a bishop or as a smith ; in either case generally accompanied by his smith's tools—tongs, hammer, or bellows.

Bas-relief by Nanni di Banco outside Or San Michele, Florence.

EPHREM, ST. (of Edessa). (July 9th)

One of the early hermits of Syria. He wrote homilies and epistles, which were of great authority.

He is represented in pictures of the hermit life.

ERASMUS, ST. (Ital. SANT' ELMO or ERASmO ; Span. SANT. ERMO or ERAMO ; Fr. ST. ELME). (2nd June)

A bishop in Southern Italy, martyred under Diocletian and Maximian. His indomitable fortitude under torture caused a new and awful death to be invented for him. He was cut open, and his entrails wound on a sort of wheel like that used for winding wool.

He is represented as a bishop, old, and with a wheel as his attribute, or suffering martyrdom.

ERCOLANO, ST. (Bishop of Perugia about 546). (1st March)

During the siege by the Goths under Totila, he helped and encouraged the people. On the taking of the city he was beheaded on the ramparts, and his body thrown into a ditch ; it was afterwards found and buried.

Frescoes by Benedetto Bonfigli in picture gallery, Perugia.

ETHELDREDA, ST. (June 23rd).

Daughter of Ina, King of East Anglia. She was married at an early age to Toubert, a prince of the Fenland, and afterwards to Egfrid, King of Northumbria, but, after some years, obtained his permission to withdraw from the world, and take the veil at Coldingham.

The next year she founded her celebrated monastery on her own lands at Ely.

EULALIA, ST. (A Spanish virgin martyr). (loth December)

When the edict of Diocletian was published, she fled, at the age of twelve, from her mother's house, and reproached the prefect for his cruelty. She was tortured and put to death. As she died, a white dove issued from her mouth and flew to heaven.

There is also St. Eulalia of Barcelona, with a similar story, evidently confused with this one.

A very early representation is in the procession of virgin martyrs at Ravenna.

EUPHEMIA, ST. (16th September)

Suffered martyrdom at Chalcedonia, in Bithynia, at the beginning of the fourth century. She was thrown to the flames, and then to the lions, but both were miraculously rendered harmless, and she was then run through with a sword. A description of a picture of her, contained in a homily by Asterius, Bishop of Amasea, in Pontus, about 350-400, is still extant.

She is represented with a palm, or a lily, and with a lion.

Picture at Naples, formerly ascribed to Mantegna.

EUSTACE, ST. (20th September)

A Roman soldier, and captain of the guards, under the Emperor Trajan. Ac-cording to the legend, he was devoted to the chase, and one day, when pursuing a stag, he saw between its horns a crucifix shining, and heard a voice saying : "Thou shalt suffer many things for my sake." He, his wife, and two sons, were baptised, and soon afterwards came to extreme poverty. By various accidents he lost both his wife and sons. After many years he was re-stored, during the reign of Hadrian, to all his honours ; and his wife and two sons re-turned to him, rescued miraculously from pirates and wild beasts. But on the occasion of a Roman victory they refused to join in a sacrifice, and, by order of the Emperor, were shut up in a brazen bull, and burnt to death.

He is represented as a Roman soldier, or an armed warrior, the stag with the crucifix being near him. His military dress distinguishes him from St. Hubert. Pictures of the martyrdom are also to be met with.

Picture by Vittore Pisano in the National Gallery.


The Four Evangelists are very frequent in pictorial art. In early times they were represented as four books, or as four rivers issuing from Paradise. Later the four living creatures of Ezekiel, and the four beasts of the Apocalypse, were taken to represent the Four Evangelists; St. Matthew with the face of a man, representing CHRIST as man ; St. Mark as a lion ; St. Luke as an ox; and St. John as an eagle, for he soared in contemplation of the Divine. The four combined in one make a "Tetramorph." Separately they are commonly depicted as winged, and each holding a book ; and in later times as men with heads of the symbolic animals, or attended by the animals as emblems, or, omitting the symbol, as men, each holding his Gospel.

Fresco in Spanish Chapel, Santa Maria Novella ; Raphael's "Vision of Ezekiel," and Fra Bartolomeo's " Risen Christ " in Pitti, Florence.

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