Giovanni Bocati, The Story of Saint Sabinus

Mid-15th century
Predella panel
Ducal Palace, Urbino, Italy

The story pictured here is recounted in Butler (I, 288). St. Sabinus was Bishop of Canosa in the 6th century. When he was old and blind the archdeacon Vindimus decided to hasten his death so he could succeed to the bishopric. He got a servant to give Sabinus a cup of wine with poison in it. Sabinus looked at the cup, said "the instigator of this crime will never be bishop," and drank the wine. The poison did not harm him, but at that very hour Vindimus fell dead in his home three miles away.

The death of Vindimus is pictured on the left, and on the right we see the servant, the bishop, and the cup. The contrast between the death of the one and the life of the other is emphasized by the two beds in the panel. The one in the background on the right has been prepared for Sabinus to have a good night's sleep, while the other on the left is where Vindimus breathes his last.

Sabinus had been known to have the gift of prophecy. Two of his Latin vitae can be found in the Acta Sanctorum, February vol. 2, 310-31 and in MHG: Scriptores Rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum, I, 586-89. His feast day is February 9.

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