Bartolomeo Litterini, St. Eustace in Prison

Beginning of the 18th century
Church of San Stae, Venice

In the legends the Emperor Hadrian, angry at St. Eustace's refusal to sacrifice to the idols, has him and his family cast into prison with a number of lions. In the painting the lions have made themselves peacefully at home with Eustace, his wife, and his two sons. The people observing the scene through the bars are not mentioned in any of the texts I have seen, but the Roman Breviary (IV, 574) does speak of some Christians who took the family's body and placed them in a shrine.

As one can see, the lower part of the painting has been damaged, leaving only the rump and tail of the second lion. In the Golden Legend the lion bows down before St. Eustace, and that may be what was pictured in the lost section.

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