Miguel Alcañiz
St. Giles with Christ Triumphant over Satan

15th century
Tempera on wood, gold ground
Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is one panel on the left side of an altarpiece. St. Giles, the figure in the brown habit, can be identified by reference to a tall panel immediately to the right of it, which portrays him with the same face and habit and several of his attributes.

Christ is shown directly above Giles, with red squares marking off the ends of the cross in his halo. The scroll in the angel's hand reads, [ISTE?] EST DOMINUS REX GLORIE, "[This?] is the Lord, the King of Glory." The scroll in the saint's hand reads ET DOMINUS FORTIS IN PROELIO, "and the Lord strong in battle." These phrases are from the Vulgate of what is now called Psalm 24, verse 3: "Who is this king of glory? The Lord, strong and powerful, the Lord, strong in battle."

The relevance of the psalm is that the phrases on the scrolls were understood to refer to the Ascension of Christ, the subject of the central panel of the altarpiece. The phrase "strong in battle" is here attested by a victory over Satan's minions.

Furthermore, the phrases are preceded by a section that asks who may "ascend into the mountain of the Lord" and answers "the innocent in hands, and clean of heart…This is the generation of them that seek him." Apparently the artist and his patrons took Giles to be such a person and therefore a sharer in Christ's victory.

More of St. Giles

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