Master of the St. Mary Polyptych (attrib.)
The Palazzo Bellomo St. Lawrence Altarpiece

15th century
Palazzo Bellomo, Syracuse, Sicily

St. Lawrence is seated on his throne in heaven wearing a dalmatic and holding the martyr's palm in his left hand and a book in his right. The throne sits on a gridiron placed over a recumbent figure most likely representing the Emperor Decius, who the Legend says ordered Lawrence's death.

Above the saint is a panel with the Virgin Enthroned. The six panels along the side present the sequence of the saint's passion. Besides the Golden Legend, they may have been influenced by a Latin vita that had details not found in the Legend, such as the burial of Sixtus and the use of "claws" in the torture of the saint. The vita is in Acta Sanctorum, August vol. 2, 518-19.

The six panels are as follows:

  1. Upper left: The Christians Bury Pope Sixtus. (Apparently modeled on Dormition images.)
  2. Middle left: Lawrence distributes the Church's funds to the poor.
  3. Lower left: Lawrence is arraigned before the Emperor Decius.
  4. Upper right: Lawrence is imprisoned (not photographed).
  5. Middle right: He is tortured.
  6. Lower right: Decius orders him roasted to death on a gridiron.
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More of St. Lawrence

Photographed at the site by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.