St. Raphael with Tobias and the Dog

Bronze or gilt over wood
St. Mark's Basilica, Venice

The central figures can be identified by the fish hanging from the boy's left hand. The flanking figures, one wearing a crown and both dressed as Roman soldiers, are hard to identify.

This is one of two images I have seen in which an image of Raphael with Tobias includes figures standing in fire to the waist. Usually such figures represent the souls in Purgatory, but in these cases it is possible that they represent those whom Christ came to save. In medieval allegoresis Raphael and Tobias stand for the divine and human natures of Christ, and the dog for the "Doctors of the Church" whose writings alert Christians to the intrusions of heretics. The dog's vigilant stance and Raphael's heavenward gesture may be related to this interpretation.

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