Francesco and Valerio Zuccato
St. Victor of Marseille

Museum of St. Mark's Cathedral, Venice, Italy

The museum label identifies this Roman soldier as St. Victor. The Roman Martyrology lists two soldiers named Victor who were martyred by decapitation during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian and one in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The iconography of this image would be appropriate for any of the three: the garb of a Roman soldier, the palm branch, and the sword, which is common in images of decapitated martyrs. But Victor of Marseille is by far the most famous of the three, and the most likely to be the one intended by this mosaic. Victor the Moor would probably be portrayed as an African at this late date, and "Victor the Martyr" is even less well known.

The few images of a military "St. Victor" that give any indication of which Victor it might be, all use iconography or labeling to specify Victor of Marseille. For example, the plaque shown at right identifies him and includes a windmill, referring to Maximian's order that he be crushed under the grindstone of a mill (Butler III, 158). The grindstone itself is used as an attribute in this stained glass. And in this one we see the episode in his story where he converts the soldiers assigned to guard him in prison (ibid.).

Victor of Marseille's feast day is July 21; Victor the Moor's, May 8; Victor the Martyr's, May 14.

This image in full resolution

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