Taddeo Gaddi
St. Francis Challenges the Sultan to the Fire Test

14th century
Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany

This painting pictures St. Francis's encounter with the Sultan of Egypt. He proposed that the Sultan should have a great fire prepared; then Francis and the Moslem "priests" would both walk into the fire to prove which religion God favors. The Sultan demurred.

The fire in the painting simply references what the saint was saying to the Sultan; the textual sources do not speak of an actual fire. See Acta Sanctorum, October vol. 2, 612-13 and Ugolino, xxiv.

This panel is just one of 26 that Gaddi created for the sacristy of Santa Croce, in Florence.

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