Predella of the Holy Ghost: Detail, St. Nicholas

The saint wears the omophorion with large crosses that is traditional in Eastern images of bishops, which also portray him with a short beard and high forehead (Tradigo, 302, 308). And the surest identifier is of course the bag of gold in his right hand, which he is about to throw into the window of the house on the left. Through the door one can just make out the people sleeping there.

In the center the tall forestructure of the church echoes the figure of Nicholas. This is probably intended simply to echo the vitae's emphasis on God's instrumentality in the salvation of the three daughters, but it could be inspired by the apostrophe in one vita that upbraids the man for being willing to prostitute his daughters: "You showed such faithlessness that instead of being thankful to God you chose to prostitute the Temple of the Holy Spirit, so do you think yourself worthy that this should be done for you? You may say, 'what Temple do you mean?' Hear how clearly the Vessel of Election puts it: 'Everyone who lives chastely is a Temple of God and a Throne of the Holy Spirit.'" (Falcone, 115, my translation – "Vessel of Election" is what God calls St. Paul [Acts 9:15]; "Everyone who…" is from Omnis qui caste vivit, a Gregorian chant based on 1 Corinthians 6:19.)

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Photographed at the Franciscan Museum, Dubrovnik, by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.