Saint Hermenegild: The Iconography

In Seville, Spain, St. Hermenegild, Martyr. He was the son of Liuvigild, the Arian king of the Visigoths. He was imprisoned when he confessed the Catholic faith. When he refused to take communion from the Arian bishop during the Easter service, his perfidious father ordered that he be brought down with an axe. Thus he left this earthly realm and entered Heaven as a king and martyr. – Roman Martyrology for April 13

In the image at right the axe, crown, sword, and cross are all attributes of this 6th-century saint. He was a Visigothic prince of Spain who ran afoul of his father the King when he converted from Arian to Catholic Christianity. His father had him imprisoned and then murdered. Some versions of his legend have him killed with an axe to the skull, as shown here. In others he is beheaded, also with an axe.

For an excellent introduction to this saint's iconography, see the Archdiocese of Madrid's Iconografía de San Hermengildo.

DATES

  • Feast day: April 13
  • Lived in the 6th century

NAMES

  • In Spanish, San Hermenegildo

HAGIOGRAPHY

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University

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Hermenegild's statue in the Iglesia del Salvador, Seville (See this image in full resolution. Source: José Luis via Wikimedia Commons)