St. Lawrence Ascends to Heaven

Franciscan Museum, Dubrovnik, Croatia

In the lower third of the painting we see the gridiron on which Lawrence was roasted to death, a broken pillar, and a howling demon. The pillar and demon probably refer to Prudentius's apostrophe in the Peristephanon to those who "worship foul demons" and torture Lawrence and the Christians. Soon the tables will be turned, he tells them, and it will be they who suffer while their victims are clad in glory.1

In the middle of the painting, Lawrence presents his palm of martyrdom to a female figure on the right. One expects that figure to be St. Helena, from the tall cross and the model on her left of what appears to be the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. But she does not wear a crown as Helena usually does, and why would Lawrence be welcomed into Heaven by someone who was not yet born when he was martyred? She could possibly be Ecclesia, who is similarly seated with a long cross in this sculpture in Venice. The ray of light beaming from the Holy Spirit to the woman could support such an interpretation.

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Read more about images of St. Lawrence, Ecclesia, and St. Helena.

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

1 Peristephanon, II, 261-92.