Pietro Uberti
St. Philip Beaten by a Soldier

Church of San Stae, Venice

This painting, or its literary source, draws on two versions of St. Philip's life. In Simeon Metaphrastes' Menologion Philip's prayers bring about the demise of a monstrous dragon in Hierapolis in Phrygia that had been killing many of the citizens. But when he goes on to preach the gospel the city's officials have him whipped, beaten, and crucified. In the Golden Legend the action is in Scythia. A young man is preparing a fire under the idol that the people worship, when a dragon emerges from under the idol and kills him. Then Philip defeats the dragon, preaches to the people successfully, and goes on to Hierapolis and another adventure.1

The painting uses the fire from the Golden Legend, which was not in Metaphrastes, and the beating, which was not in the Golden Legend.

St. Philip's red cloak is a symbol of his status as a martyr. Red, the liturgical color appointed for feasts of martyrs and Apostles, is also seen in this contemporary image of St. John the Evangelist, also in the church of San Stae.

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

1 For Metaphrastes' account see Acta Sanctorum, May vol. 1, 13-14. For the Golden Legend, go to this page on our site.