Botticelli, Three Miracles of St. Zenobius

1500-1510
Tempera on wood Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11.98, John Stewart Kennedy Fund

The first miracle on the left is recounted in all three of the vitae published in the Acta Sanctorum (May vol. 6, 53, 55, 60-61). Zenobius and his clergy were on their way to a church that was outside the city walls when they saw a group of people headed for the burial grounds. The people were going to inter a young man there, but when they saw Zenobius they implored him to pray for the young man's resurrection. He demurred, but they were so insistent that he did say a prayer and in fact the youth rose up alive.

The second miracle is described in the museum's label but is not in the Acta Sanctorum lives. According to the museum, Zenobius raised a man who had been killed while bringing relics from St. Ambrose. (The relics, two corpses, are seen in the casket.)

The third miracle is recounted in the Acta Sanctorum (ibid., 53, 55) and is shown in two phases. Inside the house on the right Zenobius visits his archdeacon St. Eugenius, who was sick in bed. He gives Eugenius some blessed water and tells him to go and sprinkle it on a man who had recently died. The man was a relative of St. Ambrose, who was visiting Florence at the time. The scene in the bottom right of the painting shows Eugenius pouring the water and the dead man (wrapped like Lazarus) rising in prayer.

St. Eugenius is also seen at Zenobius's left in the first miracle and behind him (with the processional cross) in the second.

Details:

  1. Group on the left
  2. Group in the middle
  3. Group in the interior, upper right
  4. Group in the right foreground
More of St. Zenobius

Photographed at the Metropolitan by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.