Domenico Beccafumi, The Miraculous Communion of St. Catherine of Siena

Circa 1513-1515
Oil and gold leaf on panel
The Getty Center

This image is based on an episode in Raymond of Capua's Life (286-291). After the consecration of the Mass he lost track of one of the pieces of the host. Catholics believe that each piece is the entire body of Christ, however small, so Raymond was worried about what could have happened to it. Only later did he learn that Christ had sent an angel to carry the fragment to Catherine (who, in Raymond's account, is away in another part of the church, not close to the altar as shown here). Catherine's companions (represented by the three figures behind her) had urged her not to take Communion on this day, but Christ had different plans.

More of St. Catherine of Siena

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