The Martyrdom of St. Paul

Tempera on wood
Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome

In the bottom register a large crowd attends the beheading of Paul. The white cloth in his hands is a kerchief. A woman named Plautilla (Golden Legend, 13th century) or Perpetua (Acts of Peter and Paul, after 4th century) gave it to him to cover his eyes for the execution and was mocked for losing such a valuable object to an "enchanter" who would be unable to give it back. But Paul does restore it to the woman, as we see in the middle register, where it is floating down to her from his hands as he rises to Heaven. In the Perpetua version, the woman was one-eyed but regained full sight by wiping her face with the kerchief.

The image is on the right front panel of the triptych. St. Peter's martyrdom is on the left panel, and the central panel pictures Christ on his throne.

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