Saint Ansanus: The Iconography

On this day St. Ansanus, Martyr. He confessed Christ in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Diocletian and was imprisoned. Then he was taken to Siena, in Tuscany, and there he achieved martyrdom by decapitation. – Roman Martyrology for December 1

Called "the Baptiser," Ansanus was a boy of twelve who preached the Christian religion in Siena, Italy. According to the legends he was denounced by his own father during the persecution of Diocletian and imprisoned in Rome. He escaped and went to Siena, where he converted many. For this, he was tortured and beheaded.1

Portraits of St. Ansanus are all very much like the ones at right: a beardless youth in a "page boy" haircut. He almost always holds something in one or both hands – often a palm branch, sometimes a small cross, or sometimes a standard with the black-and-white flag of Siena, as in the pictures at right.


  • Feast day: December 1
  • Martyred during the persecutions of Diocletian in 304


  • Petrus de Natalibus, I, fol. 3a, has a paragraph on St. Ansanus.
  • Also see Baluze, IV, 60-67, for a series of breviary lessons that cover the saint's life, death, and translation.

Prepared in 2014 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University, revised 2015-07-30, 2020-05-13.


Simone Martini, St. Ansanus, 1326 2

Simone Martini and Lippo Memmi, detail from The Annunciation, 1333. See the description page.


1 Butler IV, 454. Petrus de Natalibus, I, fol. 3a.

2 Photographed at the Met­ro­po­li­tan Museum of Art (Lehmann Col­lec­tion, 1975.1.13) by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license).