St. Castrensis and the Demon

12th-13th century
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

In the vita of St. Castrensis he and a multitude of Catholic Christians were driven out of Carthage by the Vandals, who were Arian Christians, in the 5th century. Despite the rickety ships in which they sailed away from the city, God granted them safe passage to the Campania, where Castrensis preached the Gospel until the end of his life (Acta Sanctorum, February vol. 2, 523-29).

The vita declares that many miracles were performed by St. Castrensis but recounts only one, and that is what the mosaic pictures. As seen on the left, the saint drove a demon out of a man and told it to cast itself into the sea. This the demon did, but in the sea it saw a ship sailing by so it tried to pull the ship over and drown the sailors, as we see on the right. They prayed to God and St. Castrensis, who admonished the demon: "Not in the sea, but you must go down to the lowest depths of the sea" (ibid., 528). The ship then sailed away safely to its destination.

The inscription above the image says, CONSERVAT NAUTAS ET DEMONIS ERIPIT IRAE / QUEM PRIUS OBSE[S]SO DE CORPORE FECIT ABIRE, "He saves the sailors and rescues them from the anger of the demon that he had forced to go out from the body of the obsessed man."

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