49: Palace chapel and the reliquary of Saint Elizabeth

The stained glass windows in the choir, designed by Moritz von Schwind, show the Russian Saint Leonilla and Saint King Louis of France. The windows had been destroyed during the war, except for the upper medallion depicting the Madonna with Child. During the restoration, the remaining windows were reproduced according to the existing designs of the great Pre-Raphaelite painter.

The Madonna in white marble on the right hand side bears a golden wreath of stars with the initials of the children and grandchildren of the princely family. On the tapestry behind her, the Sayn lion alternates with the Russian eagle and the archangel Michael from the coat of arms of the Princes Bariatinsky. 

The cast-iron choir screen, which was produced in the Sayn foundry, incorporates the founders’ initials. The mensa of the “Golden Altar” shows enamel rosettes with saints from the princely families: to the left Vladimir from Leonilla’s, and to the right Jutta of Sponheim from Louis’s early ancestry.

You will find the reason for the construction of this charming church in the central display case in the mensa: the arm reliquary of Saint Elizabeth, a masterpiece of 13th century Rhenish goldsmithing. 

When purchasing the Sayn palace in 1848, Princess Leonilla mentioned to the seller, Count Clemens Boos von Waldeck, that she was a direct descendant of the saint. Count Clemens happened to be in the possession of this precious arm relic, which was kept in the Altenberg/Lahn monastery, where Elizabeth’s daughter Gertrud had taken it, until secularisation. Count Clemens generously decided to give this arm relic to the Princess.