The Holy Virgin St. Marina
Church of Santa Maria Formosa, Venice, Italy
According to Sophronius's vita St. Marina was a woman who took the disguise of a man so she could live as a monk. But a local woman became pregnant and blamed "Father Marinus." Although of course innocent, Marina accepted the abbot's order that she leave the monastery and take care of the child herself in dire poverty at the monastery's gate, sustained only by occasional scraps of bread from the monks.
In this painting Marina's poverty does not seem all that dire. She and the child seem pink and healthy and apparently live in a cell, not at the monastery gate, which is in the distant background. The cell is provided with a chair, a chest, a soup bowl, and a small loaf of bread, along with items usually pictured in the cells of hermits: a skull, a book, and a crucifix, which the saint is lovingly explaining to her charge.
The image may have been softened in this way because of the painting's context. In the church it is mounted above a glass coffin containing the saint's body.
In this and all her images St. Marina wears the habit of a monk, not a nun.
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Read more about images of St. Marina the Monk
Photographed at the church by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.