The Saints In Art - A
( Originally Published 1908 )
ADELAIDE, ST. (of Bergamo). (See ST. GRATA.)
ADRIAN, ST (Patron Saint of Soldiers). (8th September)
A Roman of noble birth, who served in the guards of the Emperor Galerius. His wife Natalia was a Christian. When the tenth persecution broke out in Bithynia (A.D. 290) it fell to the lot of Adrian to superintend the execution of the Christians ; and, overcome by their constancy in suffering, much to the joy of his wife, he was converted to her faith. Having been cast into prison, scourged, and tortured, he was finally sentenced to have his limbs cut off on a blacksmith's anvil. Thus he died, and his body was carried by the Christians to Byzantium. Natalia, who comforted and encouraged her husband to the last, passed the remainder of her life in widowhood near his tomb, but has always been given the honours of martyrdom, because of her sufferings and constancy.
He is represented in armour, sometimes with a lion or sword; his distinguishing at-tribute is an anvil.
AFRA and JULIA, SS. (Patron Saints of Brescia). (5th August)
Both were virgin martyrs, and have churches dedicated to them. They are often associated in pictures with St. Apollonius, the Bishop, and SS. Faustinus and Jovita, all patrons of Brescia.
In the Church of St. Afra, Brescia, is a picture of the martyrdom, ascribed to Veronese.
AGATHA, ST. (5th February)
According to the legend was a Christian maiden of Catania, in Sicily, in the reign of the Emperor Decius. Quintianus, who was sent to govern Sicily, when he heard of her beauty and virtue, sent for her, and tried by all means in his power to get her for him-self. Agatha said that neither wild beasts nor fire nor scourging would move her, she would remain the servant of Christ. Then Quintianus had her bound and beaten, and ordered his slaves to tear her breasts with iron pincers. She was then carried to a dark dungeon, where St. Peter, accompanied by a youth bearing a torch, appeared in the night with ointment, and healed her. Then Quintianus had her thrown into a fire, but an earthquake came at the moment, and terrified the people so much that they begged him to stop the murder. Agatha was carried to a dungeon, but died of her wounds. Her tomb became a sacred spot to Christians, and, at a great eruption of Mount Etna, they took her silken veil from it, fixed it on a lance, and went forth to meet the lava, which ceased to flow at their approach, and the eruption ended.
She is represented with a martyr's palm and the instruments of her torture, pincers or shears, or with her breasts in her hand or on a salver. She sometimes has a long veil.
A picture of the martyrdom is in the Pitti, Florence, by Sebastiano del Piombo.
AGNES, ST. (Span. INEZ). (21st January)
One of the oldest Christian legends is that of St. Agnes, the Roman virgin martyr. From childhood she was distinguished for her purity and sanctity. While still a girl, Sempronius, the son of the Prefect of Rome, fell in love with her, but all his gifts and flattery availed him nothing. When the Prefect saw his son sick, he added his persuasions, but she refused absolutely, saying that CHRIST was her spouse. Then he grew angry, and ordered all sorts of torments : she was stripped of clothing, but her hair suddenly grew so long that it covered her entirely. When the onlookers, terrified, shut her up, an angel appeared to her, bringing a shining garment. When Sempronius approached her, he was smitten with blindness and convulsions, and the Prefect ordered her to be burnt as a sorceress. But the flames refused to touch her, burning the executioners instead. She was then killed with the sword, preserving her purity to the end, and the legend says that she appeared afterwards to people worshipping at her tomb, accompanied by a snow-white lamb.
She is represented as very young and fair, with a lamb.
ALBAN, ST. (22nd June)
The first British martyr. He was born at Verulamium (St. Alban's), in the third century. During the persecution under Diocletian he sheltered in his house a Christian priest, by whose teaching and example he was converted. Soon afterwards he suffered martyr-dom. A church was built on the spot, in later times the site of the celebrated Benedictine monastery.
ALBERT, ST. (Bishop of Vercelli, and Patriarch of Jerusalem). (8th April)
He is regarded as the Founder of the Carmelite Order. In I214, when about to embark at Acre to attend a council at Rome, he was murdered by a ruffian whom he had reproved for his crimes. He therefore bears the palm, as a martyr. He wears the Carmelite habit.
In a picture by Dosso Dossi, in the Carmine, Modena, he is trampling on the fiend in the form of a woman.
ALBERTUS MAGNUS, ST. (15th November)
One of the greatest philosophical thinkers of the Middle Ages. He was a Dominican friar, and Bishop of Ratisbon. He is often represented with St. Thomas Aquinas, in the Dominican habit.
In a picture, ascribed to Fra Angelico, in the Accademia, Florence, he is delivering his lectures, and in Fra Angelico's picture of" The Risen Christ," in the National Gallery, he appears as a Bishop.
ALEXANDER, ST. (of Bergamo). (See ST. GRATA.)
ALEXIS, ST. (Lat. S. ALEXIUS ; Ital. SANT' ALESSIO). (17th July)
The long-desired son and heir of rich Roman parents. When still young he vowed himself to the service of God, but his father insisted upon his marrying a noble Roman maiden. After the marriage festival he fled in a small boat by the river to Ostia. There he took ship, and came to Asia Minor, where he lived in great poverty, and taught, and ministered to the people. After a time he returned destitute to Rome, and came to his father's house, where no one recognised him, and he was lodged in a hole under the marble steps of the door. His father, mother, and wife were still mourning his loss, but he made no sign, and at last came near to death. Then he wrote down all he had gone through on paper, and while Innocent I. was celebrating Mass before the Emperor Honorius a voice was heard, telling them to seek Alexis in the house of his father Euphemian. So they came to the place, but meanwhile Alexis had died. He was given the honours of martyrdom because of his sufferings and constancy, and became the Patron Saint of Beggars.
He is represented as a pilgrim or beggar, ragged, and carrying a palm or a cross.
AMBROSE, ST. (Ital. SANT AMBROGIO).
(Patron Saint of Milan.) (7th December)
Son of a prefect of Gaul, born at Treves, about 340. Legend says that, as a forecast of future eloquence, a swarm of bees alighted on is mouth when he was a baby in the cradle, and did him no harm. On leaving Rome, where he was educated, he went to Milan, and, after becoming distinguished at the Bar there, he was made governor of the province. In 374, on the death of the Archbishop of Milan, a great controversy arose between the orthodox Catholics and the Arians. On the day of the election, Ambrose addressed the violent multitude, and, when he had reduced them to silence by his eloquence, a small child in the crowd shouted out : " Ambrosius Episcopus I" The voice was considered an intimation from Heaven, and, much against his will, by the consensus of the people and the command of the Emperor, St. Ambrose was shortly afterwards consecrated Bishop. He set to work to be worthy of his office, the importance and authority of which he fully realised. He insisted on the supremacy of the Church over the civil power, by various acts, culminating in his famous action towards the Emperor Theodosius for his massacre in Thessalonica. He excommunicated him, and insisted on his public penance in the cathedral at Milan. There are legends of his healing the sick and lame, and seeing the burial of St. Martin of Tours in a vision. He also had a miraculous dream, in which the burial place of the bones of the martyrs St. Gervasius and St. Protasius were revealed to him, and he had them deposited in Milan Cathedral. CHRIST visited him on his deathbed; an angel woke the Bishop of Vercelli to give him the last sacrament ; he was borne to heaven by angels.
He is usually represented as a bishop, sometimes with a beehive at his feet. More often his attribute is a knotted scourge, with three thongs, representing the Trinitarian doctrines, which put the Arians to flight.
Pictures by Vivarini and Basaiti in the Frari, Venice, and by Ferrari at Vercelli.
ANDREW, ST. (Biblical, Patron Saint of Russia
and Scotland). (30th November)
Tradition says that St. Andrew, after preaching in Russia, went to Greece, where he converted the wife of the Proconsul, and was consequently scourged, tortured, and finally crucified. According to legend his cross was in the form of an X (St. Andrew's cross), and he was bound to it with cords. Before his crucifixion he knelt and adored the cross, in remembrance of his Master's death.
Fie is represented generally as an old man, with the transverse cross.
ANGELUS THE CARMELITE, ST. (5th May)
According to legend he came from the East about 1217, and preached at Palermo and Messina. Having rebuked the wickedness of Count Berenger, a powerful noble of that country, he was hanged upon a tree, and shot with arrows.
He bears the palm as a martyr ; some-times red and white roses are seen falling from his mouth, symbols of his eloquence.
ANNE, ST. (the mother of the Virgin). (See ST. MARY VIRGIN.) (26th July)
Formerly the Patron Saint of Siena. He was a Roman martyr, beheaded under Diocletian.
He is represented in old Sienese pictures as a young martyr.
ANSELM, ST. (21st April)
One of the most pious and learned ecclesiastics of his time, known as the "second father of scholasticism." He is renowned for the courage with which he upheld the rights of the Church against his king, William Rufus. He is sometimes confused with St. Anselm of Lucca, who is represented as a bishop, sometimes with a scroll in honour of the Virgin.
ANTHONY, ST. (the Hermit). (17th January) (ST. PAUL, 15th January)
Was born at Alexandria, in the third century. He was early left an orphan, with an only sister, with whom he divided his inheritance, sold his portion, and went to live among hermits. According to the legend he was tormented grievously by demons, who tempted him with every worldly delight, rich clothing, delicious viands, and beautiful women appeared before him, but by prayer he overcame them. Then they assumed the hideous shapes of monsters, serpents, and every kind of poisonous animal, and these tormented him, but CHRIST comforted him. He fled to a more secluded cavern, where he lived for twenty years, without human intercourse of any kind. Then he came out of his solitude, and preached and taught, performing miracles, and persuaded many to become his disciples. When he had lived for seventy-five years in the desert, he was told in a vision of St. Paul, the hermit, who had been living in penance for ninety years, and he at once resolved to go to see him. So he set out across the desert. After journeying several days, and meeting on the way a centaur and a satyr, he came at last to a cave in the rocks, where St. Paul dwelt, beside a stream and a palm-tree. The two men embraced, and St. Paul inquired of the world since he had left it. While they talked, a raven came, bringing a loaf of bread in its beak. St. Paul said that it had come every day for sixty years, but that to-day the portion was doubled. He then told St. Anthony to go back to his monastery, and fetch a cloak that had been given him by St. Athanasius, the bishop, for he was about to die, and wished to be buried in it. So St. Anthony set out, and as he was returning with the cloak he saw a vision of St. Paul ascending to heaven, and on his arrival at the cave he found his body, dead, in the attitude of prayer. He had no strength left to dig a grave, but two lions came and dug it with their paws, and St. Anthony wrapped the body in the cloak and buried it. He died fourteen years later, and was buried secretly, according to his wish.
He is represented as very old, in his monk's habit (as the founder of monachism), often with a crutch, and asperges, or a bell (to exercise evil spirits), and a pig, to represent sensuality and gluttony overcome by him.
Picture by Vittore Pisano, in National Gallery.
St. Paul is very old, with long white hair, half naked, his only garment of matted palm leaves, sometimes with a raven and a stream.
Represented in Fra Angelico's " Risen Christ," in National Gallery.
ANTONINUS, ST. (of Florence). (10th May)
Born about 1384. At the age of fifteen he presented himself for admission at the Dominican Convent at Fiesole, but he looked so small that the Prior told him to go away, and learn the Libro del Decreto by heart, and then to come again. To his surprise, Antoninus, who had indomitable perseverance, returned next year, and repeated the whole book. He was admitted, and after studying for a year at Cortona returned to Fiesole. Among his companions his great friend was Fra Giovanni, afterwards known as "Il Beato," or " Angelico," the celebrated artist of Florence. When Fra Angelico was painting in Rome for the Pope he won great favour by his purity and wisdom, and on the death of the Arch-bishop of Florence he was offered the dignity. But he entreated the Pope to choose rather Fra Antoninus, who had done great service by his unworldliness and gentle but irresistible power. The Pope willingly did so, and Antoninus became the model of a wise prelate, greatly beloved by the people of Florence. He died thirteen years later, in 1459.
He is represented as an archbishop, and wears the Dominican habit. His portrait, by Fra Bartolomeo, is in San Marco, Florence.
ANTONY, ST. (of Padua). (13th. June)
Born in Portugal, towards the close of the twelfth century, he assumed the Franciscan habit, and devoted himself to missionary work. He went to Morocco, but was obliged by sickness to return to Europe. He then joined St. Francis at Assisi, who sent him to teach divinity in several universities, including Padua. After this he devoted himself entirely to preaching, and became renowned for his persuasive eloquence. Like St. Francis, he loved Nature and all animals, and a legend relates that, when the people of Rimini refused to listen to his preaching, he went to the sea-shore, and said : " Hear, O fishes, what the unbelievers refuse." Whereupon innumerable fishes, large and small, lifted their heads out of the water, and listened to his sermon. Many miracles are recorded of him. One, often represented, was on the occasion of his preaching a funeral sermon for a very rich and avaricious man. After condemning him, he said his heart would be found in his treasure chest, if his friends and relations sought it there ; and so it was, and on opening the body the heart was missing. There is also a story that a certain heretic asked him for a proof of the Real Presence, and that St. Antony made the man's mule bow down before the Host, and remain kneeling till it had gone by. It is said that one day, while he was preaching on the Incarnation, the Infant Christ appeared, standing on his book. He is much revered in Padua, where his church is famous, and he is termed simply " Il Santo."
He is represented young, in the Franciscan habit ; often with a lily or a crucifix in his hand, or with the Christ Child standing on his book, or carried in his arms. Sometimes a flame of fire is seen in his hand or in his breast, and sometimes a mule kneeling near him.
His life is illustrated by various artists in reliefs and frescoes at Padua. Representations of the saint are very frequent in churches, especially in France. He is revered as the restorer of lost property to its rightful owners.
APOLLINARIS, ST. (23rd July)
The first Bishop of Ravenna. He was martyred in the reign of Vespasian, at the place, three miles from the city, where his church now stands, called St. Apollinare in Classe.
APOLLONIA, ST. (Fr. STE. APOLLINE). (9th February)
Was the daughter of rich parents at Alexandria, in the third century. Before her birth, her mother, after vainly praying to her gods, had besought the Virgin for a child. Apollonia heard this, and in her youth became a Christian. Directed by an angel, she came to St. Leonine, a disciple of St. Anthony, and was baptised. An angel appeared to her bringing a white garment, and told her to go and preach in Alexandria. This she did ; but her father gave her up to the governor, who bade her fall down before his idols. When she refused she was bound to a column, and her teeth were pulled out one by one with pincers ; as she persisted in the faith she was killed, one legend says by fire, another with the sword.
Her distinguishing attribute is a pair of pincers, occasionally a tooth. Frescoes by Luini at Saronno.
Bishop of Brescia about the year 300.
APOSTLES, THE TWELVE (Biblical)
In old Byzantine work sometimes represented as sheep, often issuing from the cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem—the cities of CHRIST'S birth and death. Occasionally as men, with scrolls in their hands, bearing the various clauses of the Apostles' Creed, which they are supposed to have formulated at their last meeting on Mount Olivet, before they set out to preach.
AQUINAS, ST. THOMAS. (See THOMAS AQUINAS, ST.)
" The seven holy angels who stand in the presence of GOD." Of these, four only in Christian art are distinguished by name—viz. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel. The first three are reverenced in the Catholic Church as saints. (See MICHAEL, ST., etc.)
ATHANASIUS, ST. (2nd May)
One of the Greek Fathers, was born in Alexandria about 298. He won renown as a champion of orthodoxy at the Council of Nice (325). The next year he became Bishop of Alexandria, and waged perpetual warfare against the Arians till his death, in 372.
He is represented generally in groups of the Greek Fathers, and distinguished by name.
AUGUSTINE, ST. (the greatest of the Latin Fathers). (28th August)
Was born in 354 A.D., in Numidia. His mother, Monica, was a Christian, and, according to tradition, was most anxious to bring up her son in her faith, herself taking him to school in early youth. But it was not till after a stormy, restless period, followed by great success in law at Rome, that he came to Milan, where, under the influence of St. Ambrose, he was baptised, in the presence of his mother, in 387. He gave himself up to study for some years, was then ordained, and shortly became Bishop of Hippo, near Carthage. Here he wrote his chief theological works and his confessions. He devoted himself to his diocese, refusing to leave his flock when North Africa was overrun by the Vandals, and died in Hippo, during the siege of that town in 430. He was considered the Founder of the Augustine Order of Friars, and became the Patron Saint of Theologians. He relates many of his visions, the most famous being that, while meditating on the Trinity on the seashore, the Christ Child appeared to him, filling a hole in the sand with water. St. Augustine asked Him what He was doing. He said : " Trying to pour all the water of the sea into this hole." " Impossible," said Augustine. " Not more than for thee, O Augustine, to explain the mystery on which thou art meditating ! "
He is represented with his bishop's mitre and crozier, or in the black habit of his order, sometimes with a pen or a book, one of his own works, or a flaming heart. Often his mother is with him, generally with a grey or white coif. He is less easy to distinguish than the other Fathers, but is a very favourite figure in art.
His life is illustrated in frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli at San Gimignano, pictures by Botticelli in the Accademia, Florence, and by Garofalo in the National Gallery.
AUGUSTINE, ST. (of Canterbury). (26th May)
He was sent by Gregory the Great to found the Roman Church in England, where the earlier British Church had been to a great extent extirpated, or driven West, by the pagan invaders. He converted Ethelbert, King of Kent, and as a result of his labours a large part of the country became Christian. His career forms a well-known chapter in our early history.