Luigi Trezza
Monument to Giuseppe Mangilli

After 1811
Church of the Holy Apostles, Venice, Italy

This sculpture indicates one role of a guardian angel, which is to conduct his charge's soul to Heaven after death. The same concept is expressed in the altarpiece painting in a church nearby.

In the sculpture a priest gives the last sacraments to the dying Mangilli on the left, while on the right his widow prays with her face veiled. Above, the soul is pictured as a young boy being lifted aloft by Mangilli's guardian angel. Below are three figures representing souls in Purgatory. One of them, with praying hands raised, addresses the angel, who looks down toward him. Beside him, another soul cries out in pain. Aquinas wrote that when Christ came for the prophets and patriarchs in Hades, he also brought salvation to those who ready for it and hope to those who were not.1 Our artist has added a third category with the man who crosses his arms and turns away from them all.

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

1 See "The Descent into Hell," note 6.