Johann Lucas Kracker
St. Francis of Solano Baptizing Indians
Oil on canvas, 74.8 x 55.3 in. (190 x 140.5 cm.)
Theological College of Eger
This painting collapses a number of incidents in the life of the saint. According to Tiburcio Navarro, his original biographer, he did baptize many of the indigenous people of what are now Peru and northwestern Argentina. But he also converted and baptized a contingent of Africans with whom he had come to the New World. In Navarro's account, the ship was broken in two by a storm while in sight of the American coast. The crew took to the lifeboats but would not make room in them for the slaves imprisoned in the hold. Francis would not abandon the Africans. As the whites rowed away and the ship started to sink, he promised the Africans that God would protect them. In the event, the broken hull did land on shore, and the Africans asked to be baptized (Acta Sanctorum, July vol. 5, 863-64).
The church falling to pieces in the background is a reference to a later episode in which the city of Trujillo suffered a great earthquake that Francis had predicted.
More of St. Francis Solanus
Source: Web Gallery of Art via Wikimedia Commons. The source gives the saint's name as Francis "of" Solano, but he is more commonly known as simply Francis Solanus.