- Saints Stephen, Laurence & Christopher
Book of Hours, in Latin, use of Rome. Paris: Printed by Jehan de la Roche, for Nicolas Vivien, 23 February 1514. RL Catholic Hours 1514
As the first deacon named by the apostles, Stephen is identified by his vestments. He is also depicted with a monk’s tonsure (shaved head) as in this image. The saint carries a palm frond is his left hand, symbolising his status as a martyr (the victory of the spirit over the flesh).
After accusing the Sanhedrin of causing the death of Jesus, Stephen was stoned to death. Thus, stones are another of his emblems and are often used in his iconography.
Book of Hours, in Latin, use of Rome. Paris: Printed by Jehan de la Roche, for Nicolas Vivien, 23 February 1514
Many saints, as attested by illustrated martyrologies of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, met with exceptionally grisly ends, and few more so than St. Laurence, depicted at the top of the page shown here and identified by his deacon’s vestments. In his left hand Laurence carries the Book of Psalms. The implement in his right hand is the gridiron upon which he was roasted to death as punishment for refusing to stop giving away the church’s possessions to the poor.
This miniature of a large, bearded man with a staff carrying a child on his shoulders portrays St. Christopher. Prior to his conversion, Christopher was known as Reprobus, a Canaanite who wished to serve only the most powerful person on earth. While ferrying an infant across a river, the child became so heavy that Reprobus ‘thought he was carrying the weight of the world’ on his shoulders (Giorgi 89). The child revealed himself to be Christ and Reprobus was known thereafter as Christophorus or ‘Christopher’, Latin for ‘Christ-bearer’.
St. Christopher’s attributes are a tree, a torrent of water, and a staff.
Rosa Giorgi. Saints in Art; edited by Stefano Zuffi and translated by Thomas Michael Hartmann. Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003.