St. Basil Celebrating Mass Before the Emperor Valens
Oil on canvas
Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e Martiri
According to the vita of Basil published in the Acta Sanctorum (June vol. 2, 876-77), St. Basil's devotion in celebrating the liturgy on the feast of the Epiphany was so great that it caused the Arian emperor to faint and then to regret his opposition to Orthodox Christianity.
In the painting, the Emperor stands in the lower right wearing a crown, a leather tunic, and a red mantle. His closed eyes register the "faint" of the story. In contrast to him and the others in the darker foreground, the Orthodox clergy above are all in white and the light falls directly on St. Basil as he, apparently, begins to distribute communion.
More of St. Basil
Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.