Altar Frontal of the Madonna and Child with Saints

Circa 15th century
Cathedral of St. Domnius, Split, Croatia

The saint on the left with the millstone hanging from his neck is Quirinus. He was bishop of Sescia, in Pannonia, during the persecution of Diocletian. Jerome in his additions to Eusebius says he was "gloriously killed for Christ" in 310: "A millstone was tied to his neck and he was thrown from a bridge into the river [Sava]. He floated there for a long time, telling those watching not to take fear from his example. Praying for an end, he at last sank into the water" (Acta Sanctorum, June vol. 1, 380, my translation). His feast is on June 4. His acta and a hymn in his honor by Prudentius are in Acta Sanctorum (ibid, 381-84), and Gregory of Tours has a brief account of his martyrdom in his History of the Franks, II, 35.

Next to Quirinus is a bishop wearing a mitre and with his right hand out to hold what was probably a crozier. A purse hangs from his left hand, so it is likely that he is St. Nicholas, who brought gold to the indigent father of the young girls.

In the center is a Madonna Enthroned. The naked Christ Child on her lap is a feature of the 15th and the early decades of the 16th. Images after the mid-16th tend to give the child at least a bit of clothing.

To the right of the Madonna is St. Jerome, who in Croatia typically carries a maquette of a church in his left hand. His lion attribute is at his left foot.

The saint in the far right panel has a book in his left hand. The right hand is half-closed as if he were holding something. On the basis of the square beard one might guess that this is St. Peter clutching what once were keys, but it would be odd to put such an important saint at the far end of the composition.

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