Above, the Virgin is crowned by the three persons of the
Trinity. The disposition of the three resembles that in the type of
Trinity portrait that puts the dove between the Father
and Son as if "proceeding" from both.
A guide provided by the church identifies the figures in the
lower scene as "Benedict, Gregory, Maurice [Italian Mauro,
French Maur] and Placid and other Benedictine Saints."
Benedict is recognized by the Benedictine Rule in his right
hand and by the crozier and mitre. St. Placidus would be the
martyr between Benedict and the pope, holding a palm branch
and with an arrow in his head. A legend that Benedict sent him
to Sicily, where he was killed by Saracen pirates, led Pope
Sixtus V to decree in 1588 that Placidus and his companions
should be venerated as martyrs.1
The young man on the right in the mitre would then be St.
Maurus the Abbot, whom Benedict sent to found a monastery in
France. "Gregory" should be St. Gregory the Great,
the 6th-century pope who wrote of a
miracle involving Placidus and Maurus.
Because this work was painted so soon after 1588, it may be that the five clergy at the bottom are Placidus' companions. In any case, their contemporary Roman collars (and that of Placidus) could be a way of comparing their martyrdom to that of the contemporary English Benedictines whose case for canonization was taken up by Gregory XIII in 1580-85.2More of St. Placidus