|Antonio Averulino ("il Filarete")
The Martyrdom of St. Paul
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
As he awaits
the sword, Paul has tied over his eyes the kerchief he borrowed from a
disciple named Plautilla. In the center background (see detail) we see her
receiving it again from the new saint, who is "more
clear and more shining than the sun, and hath brought again my
bloody which he hath delivered me." (The Golden Legend's life of St.
Paul recounts this episode.)
upper right we see a lion devouring a doe or calf (see detail). This appears to
refer to a sentence in the
Golden Legend rehearsing one of the persecutions that St. Paul
suffered: "In Ephesus he was delivered to wild beasts."
The Legend's source is probably St. Paul's more conditional statement
in 1 Cor 15:32, "If (according to man) I fought with beasts at Ephesus,
what doth it
profit me, if the dead rise not again?" He also uses the metaphor
of wild beasts in 2 Tim 4:17, "But the Lord stood by me, and
strengthened me, that by me the preaching
may be accomplished, and that all the Gentiles may hear: and I was
delivered out of the mouth of the lion."
More of St. Paul
Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke