heart entered Augustininian iconography in the 17th century, owing to a
passage in The
Confessions: "Thou hadst pierced our heart with thy love, and we
carried thy words, as it were, thrust through our vitals. The examples
of thy servants whom thou hadst changed from black to shining white,
and from death to life, crowded into the bosom of our thoughts and
burned and consumed our sluggish temper, that we might not topple back
into the abyss" (IX:3).
speaks of conversion as a change from black to white, the artist seems
to emphasize the reverse. The saint has set aside his splendid white
mitre (the pointed hat in the background, signifying his status as
bishop of Hippo) and is dressed in the dark garb of a contemplative.
The skull and crucifix are common symbols of contemplation, as in many
portraits of St. Mary Magdalene.
More of the St. Augustine