Stained Glass Roundel depicting the martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (Flanders, ca 1500). The Saint is tied to a tree and pierced by arrows that are professionally shot by the archer whilst the third attending figure (the judge from the ordeal) is closely watching that the execution is well … executed by the … executioner. Medieval quality control! Yet hard to miss at that distance. In a lead surround, 22cm diameter. Excellent condition. For a warm winter afternoon.
Obviously, we know Sebastian as patron of archers and soldiers but he is also - very appropriate these days - "the Plague Saint". According to the Legenda Aurea Sebastian (a former Roman soldier) compelled close companions to convert, including a Roman prefect who was cured of a plague when he renounced his pagan idols. Hence after the Black Death had decimated Europe in the 14th century, he became a very popular 'Plague Saint'. Artists began to feature him as a male nude in their pieces as an alternative Christ. In doing so, the beauty of Sebastians uncovered body became one of the major themes in depictions of him. As a protector from plagues, his likeness was sought after by many patrons who commissioned works of art of Saint Sebastian, and the “plague saint” with a sculpted physique became something of a celebrity in Renaissance art.
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