Francesco and Valerio Zuccato
St. Victor the Moor

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

The museum label identifies this Roman soldier simply as "St. Victor." The Roman Martyrology lists five military martyrs by that name. The one most often pictured is St. Victor of Marseille (feast day July 21). In his portraits he will usually carry a sword, but this is to signify his profession, not the instrument of his martyrdom. He was crushed to death by a millstone, which is his attribute (example).

The Victor pictured here is most likely St. Victor the Moor (feast day May 8). He did die by the sword, which in this mosaic is used as his attribute. All the churches dedicated to him were named simply "St. Victor," and the epithet "Moor" is also absent from many written references to him, which sometimes call him "St. Victor, Martyr of Milan." This may explain why he is pictured here as a white. Even St. Maurice, whose name clearly identifies him as African, is often pictured with white skin.

Of the other military martyrs named Victor, and who could conceivably be the one pictured here, one is said to have been beheaded (the St. Victor who was martyred with St. Corona, May 14); one was named among the martyrs of the Theban Legion, who were also beheaded (September 22); and one died in Mérida from diversa supplicia (July 24).

The inscription below the portrait reads arte et coloribus pictori zuchati fratres ingenio naturae saxis m d lviiii, "The Zuccato brothers, painters, devised the art and colors from natural stones, 1559."

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

1 Analecta Bollandiana, XVII, 172-73.