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Saint Lawrence

 

Saint Lawrence

Author: Unknown

Date: 15th century

Material: Polychromed limestone

Dimensions (cm): H 69 x W 24

Provenance: Unknown

Inventory No.: MAS E 49

Polychromed sculpture of Saint Lawrence, with tonsure, dressed as a deacon and having as attributes the grill of his torture. He holds a book in his left hand.

From Huesca, in Aragon (Spain), Saint Lawrence was a deacon under pope Sixtus II who ordained him and appointed him as treasurer of the church.

In the year of 257, Valerian ordered the persecution of Christians and, in 258, he had pope Sixtus II captured and beheaded. The next three days were the time given by an emperor’s representative for Saint Lawrence to give an account of the assets and riches of the church he was responsible for. However, he decided to distribute those riches to the indigent. The emperor was furious and had him captured and burnt alive on a grill.

Ichnographically, Saint Lawrence is normally represented with the appearance of a youth, tonsured and wearing a deacon’s dalmatic. His most characteristic attribute is a grill, the instrument of his martyrdom. He may also be represented with the Book of the Gospels or a processional cross in his hands, because carrying the cross and keeping the sacred books were a deacon’s responsibility. Sometimes, he is represented with a chalice full of gold pieces, an allusion to the treasures of the church at his care and that he distributed to the indigent.