Order of St. Elisabeth, Grand Cross
Image courtesy of J. Leser, O. Lessar, "Die Ritter- und Verdienstorden, Ehren-, Verdienst- und Denkzeichen sowie Dienstalters-Auszeichnungen des Königreichs Bayern"
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A cross pattée constructed of gold and enamels. The cross arms of white enamel with gold borders. There are golden rays in the quadrants between the arms. The obverse centre bears a medallion with the image of St. Elisabeth helping the less fortunate. The reverse centre bears a medallion with the monogram “EA” (for Elisabeth Augusta) on a white enamel background, encompassed by a dark green enamel ring styled in the shape of an oak wreath. The cross is topped with a red and white enamelled crown suspension.
The Order of St. Elisabeth was donated on October 18, 1766 by Electress Elisabeth Augusta of Palatine. The order was based on the Russian Order of St. Catherine. Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia was the patron saint of the order.
The Order of St. Elisabeth was committed to charity. Recipients of the order had to be Catholic members of an established aristocracy in which they had to prove their ancestry in a 16 part test.
The order was of one class, but was divided into nuns and ladies of honour, as well as a special cross for order officials and the cross of the Grand Mistress. The Order of St. Elisabeth was the most exclusive order for women until the end of the monarchy in 1918.
The Grand Mistress could nominate an unlimited number of ladies, from her own court and princely houses, as well as six married or widowed ladies of noble, but not necessarily ancient descent.
The fee for entering the Order was four ducats.
The members were not allowed to appear in public without their badge, if they did so they faced a penalty of one ducat.
The King appointed the Grand Mistress.
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