#AMuseumADay | Vatican Museums | Pinacoteca Vaticana | Paolo Veronese, "The Vision of Saint Helena", c. 1580, oil on canvas, 166 x 134 cm.
It's been too long since my last trip to Rome. Better save up for it! I need to visit the Vatican museums again, casually strolling around the galleries and admiring one masterpiece after another.
Veronese depicts a sleeping Saint Helena, who is the mother of Constantine, the first emperor of the Roman Empire to convert to Christianity. She is dressed in regal garments befitting her rank. A putto holds up a wooden cross, signifying exactly what Helena is dreaming: through a divine vision, she is guided to where the cross is buried, in Jerusalem. There, she and her entourage discover not one but three crosses, as Christ was crucified amidst two thieves. Judas, a Jewish scholar tortured into revealing the location and subsequently converted, stops a funeral procession:
"He held the first cross over and the second over the body, but nothing happened. Then he extended the third cross, and the dead man immediately came back to life". Another miracle performed by the third cross led to its identification as the True Cross, on which Christ was crucified. In the choir chapel of the church of San Francesco in Arrezzo, the entire history of the True Cross is depicted in a series of frescoes by Piero della Francesca among others. The main source for this legend is the well-known Legenda Aurea. Another, similar scene by Veronese can be found in the collection of the @national_gallery.
Jacobus de Voragine, 'The Golden Legend. Readings on the Saints', tr. William George Ryan, introd. Eamon Duffy. Princeton (NJ) 2012, pp. 277-284
#art #painting #arthistory #veronese #saint #helen #helena #constantine #christianity #renaissance #catholicism #cross #putto #angel #dream #vision #museum #vatican #vaticanmuseums #pinacotecavaticana #vaticano #cittadelvaticano #16thcentury