Saint Louis Bertrand: The Iconography

In Valencia, Aragon, St. Louis Bertrand, of the Order of Preachers, Confessor, renowned for his apostolic spirit. He preached the Gospel to the Americans, and his many miracles testify to his sanctity (Roman Martyrology for October 9).

According to Butler (IV, 72-74), St. Louis Bertrand was a Dominican who lived in the sixteenth century and spent seven years preaching to the newly discovered indigenous nations of the Americas, in one of which the natives tried to poison him. After several days of intense agonies, he finally vomited up a snake and became well (Acta Sanctorum, October vol. 5, 321). Most of his life, however, was spent as master of novices in Valencia.

PORTRAITS

This saint will be pictured in the black and white Dominican habit. Because of the attempted poisoning, his attribute is a chalice with a snake. In a painting in the Gesuati, Venice, the artist uses the chalice and snake to symbolize a time when he was raised from his depressed feelings by a voice from above (Rugolo, 137f; Acta Sanctorum, October vol. 5, 332).

Another attribute used at times is a rifle or pistol with a crucifix protruding from the barrel (example). While preaching in Spain against public sins, a nobleman in the congregation thought that he himself was being singled out. So he suborned a young man in his retinue to assassinate the saint. The young man accosted Bertrand in the street and pulled a gun on him, but the saint made the sign of the cross and instantly the gun turned into a crucifix (Acta Sanctorum, ibid., 412).

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University. Revised 2019-02-20, 2019-03-16.

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St. Louis Bertrand with the poison cup (See the description page)


This statue has the gun attribute, but without the crucifix. (See the description page).

DATES

  • Lived 1526-81
  • Feast day: October 9

NAMES

  • Known also by his Spanish name, San Luis Beltrán.

HAGIOGRAPHY