St. Benedict

Oil on canvas
Diocesan Museum, Caltagirone, Sicily

St. Benedict is shown as usual in his Benedictine cowled black habit with his Rule open to the words ausculta o fili precepta magistri, "Hear, o son, the precepts of the master." The crozier signifies his status as an abbot. The mitre in the arms of the angel originally identified only a bishop, but in the second millenium it was accorded to abbots of certain important monasteries (Venables, 24).

The crow in the lower left refers to a story in chapter 8 of Gregory's Life of Benedict: Every day a certain crow would come to Benedict's hermitage and be given a bit of bread. One day a malicious priest sent Benedict a poisoned loaf, but the saint recognized it for what it was and had the crow "take up that loaf, and leave it in some such place where no man may find it."

A very similar painting, perhaps based on this one or on a common model, is in a church in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

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