Lorenzo Monaco, Two Episodes from the Life of St. Benedict

Circa 1414
Tempera on wood
Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

This is a panel from the predella of the Coronation of the Virgin that Don Lorenzo painted for the Camaldolese church of St. Mary of the Angels in Florence.

On the left is the episode of St. Maurus rescuing St. Placidus, who had fallen in the lake and been carried away by the current. In the seventh chapter of Gregory's life of St. Benedict the saint calls to Maurus, "Brother Maurus, run as fast as you can, for Placidus, who went to the lake to fetch water, has fallen in, and is carried a good way off." The artist shows Maurus kneeling because the story says he first asked Benedict's blessing. Then, as the image shows, he walked on the water to where the boy was drowning, lifted him up by the hair, and carried him to safety.

On the right is the miracle recounted in chapter 33. Every year St. Benedict's sister Scholastica would visit with him at a building owned by the abbey, and they would "spend the whole day in the praises of God and spiritual talk." One time as dusk fell Scholastica asked her brother to stay the night so they could continue their discourse. He said he would never spend a night away from his abbey, so she bowed her head in prayer and asked the Lord to send a thunderstorm so Benedict would not be able to leave. The lightning and rain can be seen in the upper right of this panel. Gregory says Benedict had taken some monks with him, so that explains the monk looking on from the far right. There is no mention of other nuns, but it seems unlikely that Scholastica would travel alone.

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