Paintings of SS. Albanus, Ursus, and Dominicus in St. Martin's Church, Burano

Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon. Its patron saints are Albanus, Dominicus, and Ursus. In the main church a placard relates the legend of the arrival of their relics on June 21, 1067. Some small boys managed to haul in a marble sepulcher that had been floating in the lagoon, after many strong men had failed to do so. In the sepulcher were three bodies and an inscription identifying two of them as "Bishop Albanus and Deacon Ursus, killed for their faith in Christ." The people believed that the third body was St. Dominicus the Hermit and that he had been martyred along with the other two. Shown above is a painting by Antonio Zanchi of the boys' accomplishment (1690).

The church also has a painting of martyrdom of Bishop Albanus and one of the others. The bishop is identified by his cope and by the mitre and crozier that have been rudely cast to the floor of the scaffold. In their vita, Albanus was killed in Mainz but Ursus had already been martyred when they passed through Aosta. Thus, the beheaded man below the scaffold should be Dominicus. The execution was ordered not by a Roman official as shown here but by Arian heretics (Acta Sanctorum, June vol. 4, 87-88).

Apparently there is also a legend about a shipwreck averted through the intercession of the three martyrs, for another painting in the church is SS. Lawrence Justinian, Albanus, Ursus, and Dominicus Save the Sailors (G. Brusaferro and A. Marini, 1710):

The Catholic Encyclopedia has an article on St. Lawrence Justinian, the first Patriarch of Venice. Perhaps the shipwreck legend was influenced by stories of St. Nicholas and St. Mark helping sailors in distress. The two figures in front are Bishop Albanus and Lawrence Justinian, the former dressed as a bishop, the latter as a "patriarch." The man with the tonsure behind them should be St. Dominicus, referred to as a "hermit" by the church plaque and thus more likely to have a full tonsure than the deacon Ursus.

The painting of the three boys in full resolution
The painting of the martyrdom in full resolution
The painting of the storm in full resolution


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