Master of Archbishop Dalmau of Mur
St. Vincent and a Donor

Spanish, 1450-1500
Panel, 73 x 46 in. (185 x 117 cm.)
Museo del Prado, Madrid

As a deacon St. Vincent is tonsured, wears a dalmatic, and holds a Gospel book. The Golden Legend says he was tortured on an equuleus, a word that means a rack. But Caxton's translation, perhaps in reaction to images such as this one, says an equuleus is "made like a cross thwart of which the two ends were fixed in the earth." However constructed, the rack is this saint's usual attribute.

The figure beneath Vincent's feet is the provost Dacian who ordered his torture and execution. Once Vincent was dead, Dacian told sailors to take the body out to sea, tie it to a millstone, and throw it overboard. Behind the donor in this image we see the millstone and the rope that ties it to Vincent's neck. (Of course, the body floated back to shore and was rescued by a pious woman who gave it a proper burial.)

More of St. Vincent of Saragossa

Source: Web Gallery of Art