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The Saints In Art - J

( Originally Published 1908 )



JAMES, ST. (The Great). (Biblical.) (Fr. ST. JACQUES MAJEUR ; Ital. SAN GIACOMO, or JACOPO, MAGGIORE ; Span. SAN JAGO, or SANTIAGO.) (25th July)

The Patron Saint of Spain, where, according to tradition, he preached the Gospel, and, in obedience to a command given to him by the Virgin in a vision, built a church on the banks of the Ebro. Thence he returned to Judea, where he converted Hermogenes, a sorcerer, and Philetus, one of his pupils. He was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa, and his body was carried to Joppa, and put on a ship, which was directed by angels to Spain. Here, in the country of Queen Lupa, the body was landed, and placed on a stone, which turned to wax, and entombed it. The Queen in her anger ordered wild bulls to be harnessed to a car, to take the body to destruction. The bulls, tamed by the sign of the cross, drew it to the palace, to the astonishment of the Queen, who was converted, with all her people. The body of the saint was then buried in a magnificent church built by the Queen, but was lost during the invasions of the Barbarians, till the year 800, when it was found by a holy friar, and re-moved to Compostella. His shrine there became a place of pilgrimage, where many miracles were worked. A German pilgrim and his wife (so runs the tale), on their way to Compostella, lost their son through the malicious intrigue of an innkeeper's daughter, and told their sad story to St. James. On their return, arriving at the spot where their son's body hung on a gibbet, they stood still, and wept. Suddenly their son spoke, and told them not to weep, for St. James was sustaining him. The parents hurried to the judge who had condemned him, and on hearing the story he, being at a meal, laughed and said : " If your son is alive, so are those fowls on the table." Immediately the fowls rose up, crowed, and walked. In a battle against the Moors at Clavijo, in 939, St. James was said to have appeared on a white charger, at the head of the Christian host, and " Santiago" was henceforth the war-cry of the Spaniards. Very many similar appearances are recorded of him.

He is usually placed fourth among the Twelve Apostles, and is often represented as a pilgrim, with a long staff and a wallet, sometimes with scallop shells, cape, and hat ; also on his white charger with a white banner.

His life is represented in frescoes by Mantegna at the Eremitani Church in Padua, and by Sodoma in S. Spirito at Siena.

JAMES, ST. (the Less). (Biblical.) (Ital. SAN GIACOMO, or JACOPO MINORE ; Fr. ST. JACQUES MINEUR.) (1st May)

By tradition he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, excited the crowd by the fervour of his preaching, and was thrown down from the pulpit, or from a parapet of the Temple, and killed by a blow from a fuller's club. Various miraculous incidents are recorded of him, some of which are also attributed to St. James the Great.

He is to be distinguished from the other Apostles by his instrument of martyrdom, the fuller's club.

JANUARIUS, ST. (Ital. SAN GENNARO; Fr. ST. JANVIER). (19th September)

The Patron Saint of Naples. Legend says that he was Bishop of Benevento in the third century, and came to Naples during the persecutions, to encourage the Christians. There he suffered martyrdom in 303. He is the special protector of Naples against eruptions of Vesuvius, and is greatly reverenced in that city, where it is still believed that his blood liquefies annually on his festival.

JEROME, ST. (Lat. HIERONYMUS ; Ital. GIROLAMO) (Patron Saint of Scholars). (30th September)

The most learned of the Latin Fathers, and a native of Dalmatia. He came as a youth to Rome to study, and early became famous for his love of learning. He professed the Christian faith and was baptised. He travelled in Gaul and later in Syria, where he visited hermits and ascetics. Later he retired to the desert of Calchis, where he stayed four years in solitude, doing penance, living, as he describes, "with scorpions and wild beasts, among rocks and precipices." Here he had a vision of the Last Trump. He applied himself to the study of Hebrew, and translated the Old Testament as well as the New into Latin (the Vulgate). He visited Palestine Ind Jerusalem, then he returned to Rome and became secretary to Pope Damasus. He preached abstinence, and had great influence, but, after a few years, he retired to the monastery he had founded at Bethlehem, and employed himself with his writings till he died, at the age of ninety, 420 A.D. At the approach of death he was carried into the chapel of the monastery to receive the Sacrament with his disciples. A legend runs that one day, as he sat within the gates of his monastery at Bethlehem, a lion came limping in. The brethren fled, but St. Jerome went up to it, and took a thorn out of its wounded foot. The lion stayed with him, and became the keeper of the ass of burden of the establishment. One day the lion, while asleep, let the ass be taken away by some merchants. He sought it everywhere, meantime carrying the wood, etc., himself. One day he saw a caravan of merchants coming along, led by an ass, which he at once recognised as his lost charge. He drove the whole caravan into the monastery, where the merchants, in their terror, confessed having stolen the ass, and were absolved by St. Jerome.

St. Jerome is often represented in the desert doing penance, naked, and beating his breast with a stone. Or in his cell, writing or reading. A lion is almost always beside him. He may also be distinguished by his cardinal's hat, and he sometimes carries a small church (emblematic of his great support to the Church).

Pictures by Carpaccio in S. Giorgio degli Schiavoni, Venice, by Titian in the Brera, Milan, by Cima and Catena in the National Gallery.

JOACHIM, ST. (father of the Virgin). (See ST. MARY THE VIRGIN.)

JOB, ST. (Ital. SAN GIOBBE). (Biblical.)

(Patron Saint of Hospitals, and protector against leprosy, at Venice)

It is not usual for Old Testament characters to become Christian saints. Venice, from its intimate connection with the East, and its continual ravages by plague, appears to have sought relief by the intercession of Job, the grievous sufferer of old.

JOHN THE BAPTIST, ST. (Ital. GIOVANNI BATTISTA). (Biblical.) (24th June and 29th August)

The Patron Saint of Florence, and a frequent subject in Florentine pictures. The whole of his life being comprised in the Gospel narrative, few legends have grown around his name.

In pictures of the Holy Family he is represented as a child ; then as a boy, generally with a lamb, and as a young man in raiment of camel's hair, sometimes holding a book or a scroll with the words : " Behold the Lamb of GOD." But at all times his almost invariable attribute is the cross.

Frescoes by Fra Lippo Lippi in the Duomo of Prato ; by Andrea del Sarto and Francia Bigio in the Cloisters del Scalzo, Florence, and by Pinturicchio in the Duomo of Siena.

JOHN, ST. (Capistrano). (23rd October)

A Franciscan friar renowned for his preaching and his encouragement of the Christians against the Mahometans, at the time of the capture of Constantinople. He died in 1465 and was canonised a few years after the deliverance of Vienna from the Turks, in 1683, in commemoration of the event.

Portrait by Bartolomeo Vivarini in the Louvre.

JOHN THE EVANGELIST, ST. (Ital. SAN GIOVANNI; Ger. JOHANN). (Biblical.) (See EVANGELISTS.) (27th December)

Tradition says that St. John was sent to Rome in the reign of Domitian, and cast into a cauldron of boiling oil, but was miraculously preserved. He was afterwards exiled to Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, returning thence to Ephesus, where he died at the age of nearly a hundred years. A legend relates that once in Rome an attempt was made to poison him in the sacramental cup, some say by order of Domitian, but the poison issued miraculously from the cup in the form of a serpent, while his enemies fell dead at his feet, and he and the communicants were saved. A cup often shown in the hand of St. John may refer to this, or to CHRIST'S words to him: " Ye shall indeed drink of My cup." Various legends in the life of St John are occasionally represented, such as his restoring to life Drusiana, a Christian, at the gates of Ephesus. Also two young men, his converts, having repented of selling all their possessions, St. John told them to collect pebbles and faggots, and these he turned into gold, bidding them go and enjoy earth, since they regretted their exchange for heaven. The belief among the Apostles that "he should not die" gave rise to a legend, not widely received, that he was preserved alive in the tomb, and was translated to heaven. When the Empress Galla Placidia was returning from Constantinople to Ravenna she was overtaken by a violent storm, and vowed to St. John that if she was preserved she would build a magnificent church in his honour. This she did, and having no relic of the saint she prayed for one. He accordingly appeared to her in a vision, and left her one of his sandals, which was long preserved in her church at Ravenna.

He is represented (1) as an Apostle, generally young, beardless, sometimes with book or pen, sometimes with a cup (and serpent) ; (2) as an evangelist, with an eagle ; (3) as the writer of the Apocalypse, an old man, in the Isle of Patmos, with the sea in the distance.

Frescoes by Giotto at Santa Croce, Florence.

JOHN GUALBERTO, ST. (Founder of the Order of Vallombrosa). (12th July)

He was a noble young Florentine, brilliant and skilled in arms. His only brother, Hugo, was killed in a quarrel, and Gualberto, in great fury, vowed vengeance, and set out in pursuit of the murderer. One day, when riding out from Florence, and about half-way up the winding road to St. Miniato, he met his enemy face to face at a bend in the road. There was no escape, and, falling on his knees, the unfortunate man begged for mercy in the name of CHRIST. Gualberto, who had drawn his sword, after a terrible mental conflict held out his hand, and spared the man. They embraced and parted. Gualberto went on to the Church of St Miniato, and there, having knelt before the crucifix and wept, praying for forgiveness as he had forgiven, he fancied that the Figure on the Cross bowed its head. He then entered the Benedictine Order, and dwelt for some time as a humble penitent in the Monastery of St. Miniato. Later on he retired to Vallombrosa, and there gathered around him a small company, which grew into the Order of the Monks of Vallombrosa. He died in 1073.

He is represented in the light grey habit of his Order, kneeling, and holding a cross.

Introduced into Fra Angelico's fresco of "Crucifixion" in chapter-house of San Marco Florence. Life represented in bas-relief by Benedetto da Rovezzano in the Bargello, Florence.

JOHN DE MATHA, ST. (Founder of the Trinitarians). (8th February)

Born of a noble family in Provence, in 1154. Early consecrated to the service of God, he became a student at the University of Paris. He was ordained priest, and, at his first performance of divine service, beheld a vision of an angel, clothed in white, with a red and blue cross on his breast, and his hands upon the heads of two slaves, kneeling beside him. Believing himself thus called to the deliverance of captives, he retired from the world to a desert place, and, with the help of another benevolent man, Felix de Valois, determined to found a new institution, and went to Rome to obtain the sanction of the Pope. There they found that the Pope himself had had a similar vision, and he at once ratified the Order, under the name of the "Order of the Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives." John and Felix then travelled through France, collecting money, and made three voyages to Africa, to exchange prisoners and redeem captives.

He is represented in a white habit, with a blue and red cross upon his breast, and fetters in his hand or at his feet ; generally the angel and the two captives are seen in the background.

JOHN NEPOMUCK, ST. (Ital. SAN GIOVANNI NEPOMUCENO). (16th May)

A canon regular of St. Augustine, who, for refusing to betray the secrets of the confessional, was brutally murdered at Prague by order of the Emperor Wenceslaus, being thrown from a bridge into the River Moldau. Five stars were said to shine as a crown above the spot. He was honoured as a martyr, and became, in Austria and Bohemia, the Patron Saint of Bridges and Running Water, and also of Silence.

He is represented in the Augustine Habit one hand holds the cross, the other is ex-tended in benediction. Five stars are seen above his head. Sometimes he is shown with his finger on his lip, or a padlock on his mouth.

JOSEPH, ST. (See ST. MARY THE VIRGIN.) (19th March)

JUAN DE DIOS, ST. (Founder of the Hospitallers, or Brothers of Charity). (8th March)

Born of poor parents at Monte Mayor in Portugal, in 1495, he was seduced from his home by a priest, who abandoned him on the road. He became a shepherd, and afterwards a brave and reckless soldier of fortune. After many strange adventures, he returned home, to find that his parents had died of grief at his loss. Remorse seized upon him, and he determined to go to Morocco, and minister to the Christian captives there. At Ceuta he entered into the service of a Portuguese nobleman, who had lost all his possessions, and maintained the whole family by his labour. Returning to Spain, he went, in obedience to a vision, to Granada, where, at a festival, he was seized with a frenzied excitement bordering upon madness. On his recovery he devoted himself entirely to the relief of the sick and poor, and, with the help of a few charitable people, founded the first Hospital of the Order of Charity. After ten years of fervent and self-denying life he died, in 1550, and was canonised by Pope Alexander VIII. in 169o.

He is represented in the dress of the Capuchins, with a long beard, and holding in his hand a pomegranate (tome de Granada), with a cross standing on it, and with a beggar kneeling at his feet.

JUDE, ST. (See SS. SIMON and JUDE.) (28th October)

JULIA, ST. (of Brescia). (See ST. AFRA.)

JULIAN, ST. (of Cilicia) (the Patron Saint of Rimini). (22nd June)

He was a Greek martyr, who was thrown into the sea in a sack full of serpents, but his body was (according to legend) guided on the waves by angels, till it arrived on the shores of Rimini, where a church was erected in his honour.

JULIAN HOSPITATOR, ST. (Patron Saint of Travellers, Boatmen, Ferrymen, and Wandering Minstrels). (6th July)

A rich nobleman who lived luxuriously in his castle. One day, so runs the tale, a deer, which he was hunting, turned round and prophesied that he would cause the death of his father and mother. Terrified at the prediction he fled into a distant country, where he was honourably received by the prince, and given a beautiful wife, with whom he lived happily for some years. Meanwhile his parents, mourning deeply, sent messengers everywhere for news of him, and at length, dressed as pilgrims, set out themselves to find him. Arriving at his castle during his absence, they were hospitably entertained by his wife, and on making themselves known, were allowed to rest on her own bed. Julian, on his return, seeing a man in his bed, killed them both instantly. When he discovered his deed, he and his wife went out into the wilds to do penance, and built a hospital for the poor, and a cell for themselves, while Julian in charity ferried travellers across a rushing torrent that ran by. One night in midwinter he brought over a leper, so ill that he carried him in his arms, and put him in his own bed, where his wife nursed him. In the morning the leper told them that GOD had accepted their penance, and then' vanished. Shortly after, full of good works, they died.

He is represented young, in rich attire, with hunting-horn or stag; sometimes a river and boat are seen in the background.

JUSTA and RUFINA, SS. (29th July)

Patronesses of Seville, being daughters of a potter in that city, with whom they worked, giving all they could to the poor. When some women came to their shop to buy vessels for the sacrifice to Venus, the sisters refused to sell for such a purpose, whereupon all their earthenware was broken by the would-be purchasers. When Justa and Rufina, in retaliation, broke the image of Venus, they were seized by the populace, accused of sacrilege before the Prefect, and, confessing themselves Christians, were tortured and martyred, in the year 304. They are a favourite subject of all painters of the Seville School.

They are represented with pots ; sometimes the Giralda (tower) of Seville, supposed to be under their special protection, is seen near them.

JUSTINA, ST. (of Antioch). (See ST. CYPRIAN OF ANTIOCH.) (26th September)

Her attribute is a unicorn, regarded as the emblem of chastity, because of an ancient fable that it could never be captured, except by a stainless virgin.

JUSTINA, ST. (of Padua). (7th October)

Frequent in Paduan and Venetian paintings, and to be distinguished from Justina of Antioch, a famous saint of the Eastern Church. She was born at Padua in the third century, a daughter of King Vitalicino, who was baptised by St. Prodocimo, a disciple of St. Peter. In the reign of Maximian she was killed by a sword thrust through her breast.

She is represented as a princess, with a crown, and a palm, and a sword through her breast. Sometimes confused with St. Justina of Antioch, and given her attribute, a unicorn.

Picture by Paolo Veronese, in her church at Padua, and by Tintoretto, in the Accademia, Venice.



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