Johann Michael Rottmayr
St. Augustine Confuting the Heretics

St. Augustine Chapel, St. Florian's Monastery
St. Florian, Austria

The heretics, opposing Augustine with book and knife, find themselves outside the divine favor symbolized by the light that flows from above and that is reciprocated by the rising heart, symbolic of Augustine's love of God. The heart is a common attribute of this saint; in this case it is not topped by a flame as in other images. The Trinity in the heavens is pictured according to the most common pattern in this and later eras: the Son on the Father's right hand, with the Holy Spirit radiating light into the space between them.

On the left, below the vision of the heavens, is what appears to be a painting of four men carrying a man on a litter down a hillside from a large city. The position of St. Augustine's pen makes it seem that it is he who "depicted" the scene in his writings, but I have not yet been able to identify such a scene in his works. His City of God 22:8 lists a number of miracles he had observed involving the cure of persons gravely ill, but none of those persons were on a litter or outside their cities. One might guess that the painting represents the consequences of a plague relieved by the intercession of the saint, and indeed he has been credited with protecting various cities from plagues of locusts. But no locusts are in evidence in this painting-in-a-painting.1

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

1 City of God, XXII, viii. Christian, 44.