“Who am I?”

Any ideas about who this saint is?

This is not an allegorical figure.  There is a halo and no other allegorical depictions in the place.

Click for larger images.

Readers can send in their photos and we can do this more often.

But only hard ones, please!  Puzzlers.  Tough to identify.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Saints: Stories & Symbols. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Bruce says:

    Saint Dorothy?

  2. Dave says:

    St. Dorothy, perhaps?

  3. I’m guessing Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.

  4. Cliff W says:

    St Cunnegunda? She was an empress-turned-nun.

  5. kellyford says:

    See, I would’ve guessed Martha.

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  7. Tina says:

    St. Elizabeth of Thuringia? Well maybe not. If I remember correctly she usually is depicted with roses or bread.

  8. bearitone says:

    Chirst the King Cathedral in Hamilton has similar images of Martha.

  9. PaulJason says:

    I thought Martha too

  10. St Cunnegunda? She was an empress-turned-nun.

    She is usually portrayed with a cathedral in her arms, not food or fruit

  11. DG says:

    Looks like he or she is wearing a maniple and chasuble. I’m voting that this is a male saint with represented androgynously.

  12. If a saint is usually depicted in another manner, with other symbols, then perhaps we should focus on those who have usually the symbols depicted here?

  13. DG: Is that a maniple or a towel?

    Male or female? Hard to tell.

  14. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a queen. Though she is usually depicted carrying roses since she was ostrasized by her family for bring food to the poor.

  15. Amanda says:

    I too would guess St. Elizabeth of Hungary

  16. Lepanto says:

    Aren’t martyrs sometimes depicted carrying the rocks with which they were stoned? Is the fruit she is carrying perhaps connected to this?

  17. LCB says:

    This would be a fun regular feature on the blog.

  18. Redxxt18 says:

    St. Martha ya that’s it.

  19. irishgirl says:

    I think it’s St. Dorothy-she is depicted in art carrying fruit and/or flowers.

    St. Elizabeth is usually depicted with roses.

  20. Dennis says:

    Was Elizabeth of Hungary a queen? The daughter of a king, of royal blood, but married to the Margrave (count, border-count) of Thuringia, but queen?

    Margaret of Scotland?

  21. TerryN says:

    I’m sure it is Dorothy, her emblem in art is a fruit laden basket. On her way to martyrdom a man mockingly asked her for fruit from heaven. A child appeared to her with a basket of delicious fruit and flowers which she sent to the man and he was converted to the faith. I believe the crown signifies the crown her martyrdom won for her. I can’t explain the apron and towel. There is no proto-type for the saint in Eastern orthodox iconography that I know of.

  22. Bruce says:

    I agree TerryN.

  23. Anthony says:

    From the towel over her arm, the apron, what appears to be a maid’s cap, and presenting a bowl of fruit, I would hazard to guess that it is St. Martha (sister of Mary and Lazarus) as the patron of waiters and waitresses.

  24. Jane M says:

    Well, I’m going to suggest Saint Zita who is also shown with a basket of fruit at times. That would explain the apron and towel and possibly the head object, which doesn’t look to me like a crown but more possibly a maid’s cap. (Not that she would have dressed like that in her own time.)

  25. flabellum says:

    It looks like a maid or waitresses headband and an apron, together with a towel, so I guess she is a servant, and the bowl of fruit may be emblematic of fruits of the spirit, so I suggest St Zita of Lucca

  26. Andris Amolins says:

    St. Silvia (or Sylvia), mother of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

  27. Redxxt18 says:

    does not the red halo mean a martyr?

  28. PMcGrath says:

    St. Pomona?

    (Just kidding!)

  29. mysticalrose says:

    St. Zita?

  30. Tom Craughwell says:

    Definitely St. Zita. The apron, the (anachronistic) maid’s cap, the towel or largish napkin, all recall that she spent over 40 years of her life as a servant in the home of the Fatinelli family in Lucca, Italy.

  31. CBM says:

    A clue might be found in the title of the parish and our ethnicity of the parishioners who paid for it

  32. Alan says:

    If there are no other allegorial things at all except for the halo then it could be any female saint in the world!


  33. Subvet says:

    Hmmm. Looks androgynous, “fruit” in the bowl, red halo perhaps depicts martydom.

    Is this from a church in Northern California where they’re trying to get Harvey Milk canonized?

    Okay, okay, I’m on my way to my room.

  34. CB says:

    I am going to agree with Jane and guess St. Zita.

  35. BakerStreetRider says:

    I think it is Dorothy. Though she is traditionally depicted with apples, she is also the patroness of gardeners and fruit-growers.

    Do you know the answer, Fr. Z, or will we never know?

  36. Mila says:

    I think it’s St. Martha.

  37. Paul Stokell says:

    One more for Elizabeth of Hungary.

  38. Therese Z says:

    That headpiece does not read “crown.” It reads “maid” or “waitress.” I also vote for St. Zita.

  39. If it is a towel, not sure why it bears a cross. Wonder too if the red halo depicts a martyr. Is the white band a Roman-era headpiece?

    No idea!

  40. Allena says:

    ooohhh I like the new game, let me brush off that pesky art history minor I earned so long ago..

    Lets see, a halo so it’s a saint lol.

    RED halo in Byzantine usually was used for Christ or the Virgin Mary. Red symbolizes martyrdom but not usually in a halo..

    Purple cloth – royalty or penance generally.

    White cloth, virginity, non martyr –

    A crown represents great virtues practiced, or marriage.

    Fruits – the gifts of the holy spirit, or the fruits of life is children..fruits of your works.

    Apples represent sin, grapes- Jesus as the true vine, or the blood of Christ, lemons (that’s what it looks like) represents faithfulness in marriage and is a symbol of the Virgin Mary. Oranges represent the fall from grace, plums usually represent fidelity, looks like there is bread in there too, and a few things I’m not sure of. Pomegranites are often used to depict the Church, but is that what some of those things are? Hard to tell.

    I believe that we can say, that this was possibly a virgin or married, probably royal, who exceeded in works of Charity, and virtue. It is possible that St Elizabeth of Hungry could be the saint. It could also be her niece, St Elizabeth of Portugal.

    One could argue that this could be the Virgin Mary, but I don’t think it’s obvious enough to be her, although there are symbols connected to her, it’s just to obscure.

    There was a family of Saints, I forget their names. One of the brothers started a monastery, and then brought all his brothers over…Their Mother comes to mind. Anybody recall who I am talking about?

    It could be that I am reading too much into this window, and giving this artist way too much credit for understanding symbology, but the crown seems to be a crown, historically these “maid hats” weren’t used, but this looks more modern so it could be the pp are correct in that.

    Anyhow, maybe someone else will have a better idea…

  41. I vote for St. Zita also.

  42. Argent says:

    I vote St. Dorothea.

    “Bride of Christ, send me some fruits from your bridegroom’s garden.”

  43. Chrysostom says:

    One more vote for St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

  44. Tina says:

    My mom is voting St. Hedwig. She seems to think she remembers some story from grade school. (She went to St. Hedwig…)

  45. Tina says:

    This is killing me because I am positive there is a window similar to this in my high school chapel–all of the stained glass windows are female saints that were chosen by the students when the chapel was built in the mid-50s.

  46. Kay says:

    I would guess St. Martha but I don’t know much about St. Zita or St. Dorothy.

  47. Here is a lovely Dorothy of Caesarea with apples and roses…


  48. TeDeum says:

    St. Etheldreda, Queen of Northumbria & Abbess of Ely

  49. Tom A. says:

    St. Etheldreda is depicted holding a Cathedral.

  50. AJP says:

    I also think this depicts a male saint. The length of the hair looks like
    a medieval man’s haircut – seems like a woman of that period would either have
    very long hair, her hair completely covered, or her hair all put up. The neck
    looks masculine to me as well. Finally the “apron” looks like some sort of
    clerical vestment, along with a maniple. Who this might be, however, I have
    no clue. The fruit is tricky. The only male saint that comes to mind is
    St. Fiacre who is a patron saint of gardeners (I think).

  51. Marie Dean says:

    Could this be St. Zita, patron saint of cooks and household help?

  52. Marie Dean says:

    St. Fiacre is sometimes seen in brown, somewhat Medieval costume with a garden hoe or other garden implement.

  53. Marie Dean says:

    Again, Etheldreda, the foundress of the dual monastery of Ely, is either in a Norman blue and red nun’s habit, holding Ely Place, or in red and white in ancient paintings, which could have been her original Anglo-Saxon habit. She, as a foundress and abbess, would hold either a church and or a abbess’ staff-or crosier.

  54. Allena says:

    I am not certain, but this looks to be a modern piece, so it’s hard to say because modern artists don’t always follow traditional symbology…so it could be any saint really. I don’t think it’s a man, but it’s a possibility. St Zita, Dorthy, St Elizabeth are all good guesses.

    WHEN do we find out??

  55. Kristin says:

    St. Zita?

  56. Ok – we have a lot of St. Zita’s, Martha’s and Dorothy’s

    The suspense is killing me. Who is it?

  57. Alessandro says:

    I vote for St Martha!

  58. widukind says:

    How about Saint Melania the Younger, whose
    symbol is a basket or bowl of vegetables? [Interesting.]

  59. Lonnie says:

    St. Zita, patron saint of domestic servants

  60. Kathryn says:

    Dear Father,

    Here is my guess: Saint Frances of Rome. [That occurred to me, but I don’t think so.]


  61. Timothy says:

    Another vote for St Zita.

  62. dymphna says:

    It think it’s a boy saint. Probably a deacon. [Who?]

  63. Mila says:

    The family you’re thinkingof is St. Bernard’s. He founded the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux and brought all his brothers. His mother’s name was Alice. There was a book written by a trappist in the 1940s, “The Family that Overtook Christ”, that tells their story.

  64. j says:

    could also be a series of Marian windows.
    This could be a representation of the Feast of the Assumption, with blessing of fruits (the alternate for the day being Mary over the seas) [I don’t think so. The other windows don’t help in this matter.]

  65. It seems that the front runners are


    Melania was mentioned.
    Elizabeth of Hungary was mentioned.

  66. I doubt this is St. Melanie the Younger. Although married, she spent her later life as a nun. She would be shown in some kind of habit and veil.

    The napkin on the arm, apron, and maid’s head gear suggest a domestic worker. I go for St. Zita, even though her attributes are usually keys or bread. Modern waitress’ or maid’s attire (which this appears to be) doesn’t work for Dorothy or Martha really. What this an Italian-American church? That would clinch it.

    By the way, I have quite a bit to say about St. Zita in my book _Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes_, chapter 5.

  67. nathancollins says:

    According to Diane Apostolos-Cappadona’s “Dictionary of Christian Art,” fruit in a basket is an attribute of St. Dorothea.

  68. Steve Girone says:

    Has anyone mentioned St. Margaret of Scotland?

  69. Kathy says:

    My first thought was Martha, too. Glad to see I’m in good company!

  70. BakerStreetRider says:

    Here is a far-out suggestion. If this is a man, could it be either the prophet Daniel, or Hananiah, Azariah, or Mishael? They were brought in to be servants to the king. Instead of eating impure meat, they ate just fruit and vegetables, but they looked more healthy than all of the other young men.
    So, maybe it is Daniel? Or, perhaps one of a set of three, for the young men?
    How that would fit in with the white towel and cross, I have no idea.

  71. dymphna says:

    Could it be Lawrence or that boy martyr who was killed protecting the Eucharist?

  72. Argent says:

    Dymphna, are you referring to St. Tarcisius?

  73. shana sfo says:

    St Dorothea or St Zita. Too ‘female’ in the face for a boy and the apron has what could look like a feminine ruffle.

    My guess if I had to pick between the two would be Zita though, simply because she seems to be more in domestic worker-type apparel than anything else, although anachronistic (as mentioned by someone else previously).

  74. Joe Chicago says:

    As a former parishioner of St Frances of Rome (Azusa, CA), that’s not the right iconography for her, patroness of automobile drivers (in contrast to “travellers”). She is usually depicted with a angel (she had the charism of seeing her guardian angel) and/or a small child (for her charitable work).

    Could be a male deacon (waiting on tables).

  75. Julie says:

    St. Margaret of Scotland?

  76. Allena says:

    The blue is really giving me troubles, it is usually reserved for the Blessed Virgin. But could it be a Franciscan?

    Give us a hint!

  77. Allena says:

    Dr Eric,
    Dorothy is a good guess, and may very well be the proper one. But she is not usually seen with a bowl of fruit, usually its apples and flowers and in a basket. Or apples and grapes. I’m not saying it isn’t, just saying that’s what’s so puzzling.
    Usually when she has fruit it’s in a basket with a handle, and it shows the Christ Child. She is seen on occasion in blue though..

    I think there is bread in the bowl as well, which could reference St Elizabeth, and she would still be my first guess, but Dorthy is just as valid.

    St Elizabeth was very harsh in her penance (purple cloth) charitable (bread and fruit) and royal (crown, blue robe). She is usually seen with bread, or fruit and flowers as well. So go figure.

    I still wouldn’t discard the notion that it is a Franciscan friar. There was a period when they were depicted in blue, because that was the color of their uniform for some time.

    I just think the symbols aren’t really well matched up, and I keep thinking, why would the artist make it obscure? The very point of it, is to make it very easily identifiable.

    Father will put us out of our misery soon I hope. Or at least give us a hint, I am assuming he knows who it is.

  78. Allena says:

    LOL I just wanted to point out that WSTPRS is at the top of the Google list now for many searches I’m making…deacon, saint, fruit lol.

  79. Allena says:

    I just found, that a white towel or cloth can represent a martyr of the eucarist…Like St Tarsicius, and others.

    Does that mean anything to anyone?

  80. j says:

    I suppose St. Fructuosus is out too? No mitre.
    It’s an odd combination. Looks female, though doesn’t have symbols that make this definitive. Dressed in blue (usually Marian), but with purple chasuble (or is it an apron), with what looks like a white stole (or is it a towel). Purple robe white stole could be baptism.
    Plus crown and fruit.

    Fun game anyway – I liked the St Dorothy references.

  81. Makarios says:

    Might this be a male, Old Testament figure? Normally depicted with bread?

    An unlikely choice, I realise, but I think it’s Melchizedek.

  82. momoften says:

    I was watching your mass today via cam and it appeared as though that window was
    in your chapel….is that so?

  83. Allena says:

    Ok, here’s a little more food for thought. Since symbology isn’t getting us anywhere, I’m looking at the costume.

    So far, my best guess is still St Elizabeth, but I have doubts still. There is a good bit of costume from her time, that has shoulder straps like this, with an apron. I also found several windows that are quite similar. As I was looking though, I found a dalmatic that looks exactly like this costume, minus the “apron”.

    This could be Eastern European costume, from the middle ages, such as a gown and apron.
    It could also be a dalmatic, which ppers saw right away. A deacon/priest is a very real possibility, if that is what that garment is, then we could eliminate a lot of guessing. What would the purple be? The chausable? I can’t see that because it doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen.

    Can a dalmatic be blue? How about historically, was this ever licit? It seems that if this were a vestment, it would follow liturgical rule, which as our kind host has pointed out, blue is not an acceptable color. Does this apply to deacons and dalmatics? How about long long ago back in middle ages?

    So, readers, and Father Z (merciless torturer of readers struggling to identify Saints) :) If this were a deacon or Priest, then what would these pieces be, and can anyone identify the time period they would have been worn?

    I know Franciscans had a period where they wore blue, so it could be a Franciscan deacon, or Priest. Any other ideas to explain the blue robe with a purple over garment?

  84. Joan says:

    Are we going to get an answer? It’s driving me crazy! : )

  85. Folks… I hate to tell you this but…

    I don’t know who it is.

    I am doing some digging, but I just don’t know!

  86. widukind says:

    I may have hit upon the identity of the saint.
    I rechecked my resources, and found that a bowl or basket of fruit is also an emblem of the deaconess Saint OLYMPIA. This may explain the similarities seen by some of you to the image wearing some type of liturgical vestments.

  87. widukind says:

    Oops, I meant to say a bowl or basket of vegetables – in the German source it says “Gemüse”.

  88. Allena says:

    OH Father!

    Well, that’s ok, now that we know we don’t ever get to know (sighing) we can put it aside.

    I think we can say, that this is a eastern European Saint, around 1000 – 1300 ad.

    It could also be an early Byzantine, but it doesn’t match as well as the above.

    I can also be a deacon. [No. You can’t, if you are female.] St Olympia is a very real possibility, I’ll look into that.

    I also think, that if the other windows are made by the same person, or have a similar theme, then we should look at those. The reasoning is, that we can compare and contrast the other windows and their accuracy to symbols and historical costume, and I believe only then can we make a definitive identification.

    Could you post pics of the other windows? It seems that you mentioned there were more. If we can identify those, then we can assess the artist, and how he/she depicted things. Oh, and then it would be back at the top of the list and easy to get to…hee hee.

  89. Allena: The other windows are of no help at all. All I know so far is that they come from a defunct convent chapel in the Chicago area somewhere. I am hoping to find more information.

  90. joy says:

    If it is St. Olympia, then the other windows probably also push the ‘deaconess’ agenda. A google search led to a whole list of ‘Roman Catholic deaconesses.’ :(

  91. joy: Again… the other windows are of no help in this regard and they do not push any false agenda.

  92. Allena says:

    Holy typo Batman!

    Not “I can also be a deacon.”

    I meant “It can also be a deacon.” (I would like it if you would change it so I don’t look like I said something so…um…whats the right word – stupid. :)

    I don’t think the window pushes a “deaconess agenda”. It is important to understand that deaconesses were not then what deacons are today. Deaconesses were in charge of preparing alter linens, flowers and also was often given to wealthy patronesses who gave generously to the poor and to the Church. It was NOT a liturgical position at all. It was perfectly inline with current Catholic stance on woman’s roles in the Church. I am sorry for indicating otherwise.

    What I was saying about the other windows, was just that if they were by the same person, then we could identify whether he stuck to traditional symbology, or meandered around into new territory. We could see how accurate those were done, but from what you say, they are not by the same person, or the same time period. sigh, oh well, someday we’d like to see them too.

    It is my opinion, that this is St Elizabeth of Hungry, and if you can find out the name of the chapel where it came from, then that might give us more information on the history of this window.

    The facts: The dress of the figure places them in about Elizabeth’s time better than any other period. The fruit is associated with her, as is the color purple (penance) white (faithfulness) Blue, and the crown (royalty). I also think one object in the bowl looks like a loaf of bread. So really most facts point to her, but it doesn’t fit exactly.

    But to say with assurance, I don’t think we can yet. Let us know what you can find out, you may be surprised what information can trigger something in someone’s thoughts.

    I do think the costume could very well point to a deacon, in that same time period. I believe it could be a male Saint, but there are too many to sort through, and if so, I do not think it’s a well known Saint. I have no idea whom it would be…yet!

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