Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
The Virgin Appears to SS. Agnes of Montepulciano, Rose of Lima, and Catherine of Siena

1748
The Gesuati, Venice

Saints Rose and Catherine were Dominican tertiaries, St. Agnes a Dominican prioress. Here all three wear variations of the Dominican habit.

Gregory of Tours once argued that the saints all have a single "life" because they "share collectively in the luminous ife of the incarnate Christ."1 In that spirit the artist has transposed some of the saints' attributes, as if they were all one in sainthood. Rose's crown of thorns is here worn by Agnes; Agnes' lilies are at Rose's feet; and Catherine's black cape bears a small gray cross such as we sometimes see on Agnes' garments (see below).

At the same time, each saint also has one attribute of her own: the crucifix for Agnes, the Christ Child and eponymous flower for Rose, and the rosary that Catherine is starting to assemble by hand.

Detail: The cross on Catherine's cape:


More of St. Agnes of Montepulciano
More of St. Rose of Lima
More of St. Catherine of Siena
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1 Salih 14.