Babysitter (Venezia 258)

As the product of a Protestant upbringing I’m not that good at identifying saints.  Sebastian is pretty easy; all those lurid art works of his death in the guise of a human pin cushion have seen to that.  St Andrew was good enough to be executed on a more identifiable cross so that’s him taken care of too.  Eyes on a plate; that’s Lucia.  Head on a plate; John the Baptist.

And that pretty much takes care of it.  Each identifiable by the gruesome nature of their demise.

That’s my excuse for not recognising this chap.  He died in the 13th Century of natural(ish) causes at the age of 35 and is buried just up the road from Venice in Padua, so he’s a popular figure in the city.  Not quite “local lad made good” because he was born in Portugal, but there’s still a sense of ownership about him.

Seeing him carrying a young boy, who I correctly guessed was Christ, my first thoughts went to St Christopher, but this man is a serene-looking monk, not a fearsome giant.  I needed to do some research to discover that this is St Anthony of Padua (to distinguish him from Anthony of Rome, Florence, Antioch, Kiev and more).  Originally depicted mediating upon a book with Christ appearing on the pages, over time the book has disappeared in many depictions leaving Anthony holding the baby.

Looks like he’s kind to pigeons too.




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