Giovanni Odazi
Altarpiece of St. Robert of Molesme

Oil on canvas
Church of San Bernardo alle Terme, Rome

The painting allegorizes the founding of the Cistercian order.

Above, the Virgin gives a ring to St. Robert of Molesme, founder of the order's first monastery, to symbolize her protection and their devotion to her.

Below, a putto lifts Robert's mitre while an allegorical figure holds his abbatial crozier and a book open to the first words of the Rule of St. Benedict: Ausculta O Fili Praecepta Magistri, "Hear, o son, the precepts of the master."

In the Rule, this sentence continues "accept willingly the rules of your loving father and with all your might fulfil them." The father/son relationship is emphasized by the youthfulness of the figure of St. Robert compared to the maturity of St. Benedict (lower left) with his full gray beard and bald pate.

Read more about St. Robert of Molesme.

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