The Miracle of the Resurrected Child
Cappella di San
Lower Church of San Francesco, Assisi
From Martini's cycle on the life of St.
"This episode had never been included in a fresco cycle before. While
Martin is praying he is approached by a woman holding her dead child in
her arms; she begs him to do something and the Saint kneels in prayer.
Amidst the astonishment of those present the child is resurrected.
pointed out that Simone does not follow the official biographies
(which all report the incident as having taken place in the countryside
around Chartres), but blends this event with a legend that was popular
in Siena at the time. This legend was a longstanding oral tradition,
which we know of from a 1657 source; it tells the story of Martin
stopping in Siena while on his way to Rome on a pilgrimage. In Siena he
performed a miracle so great that a church consecrated to him was built
in the city. The miracle was a resurrection and this is the connection
that justifies Simone's blending of the two episodes and changing the
setting to Siena. The city centre is symbolized by the building to the
right: the square-topped battlements, the three-light mullioned windows
on the piano nobile and the Sienese arch above the entrance door help
us identify it as the Palazzo Pubblico. This is how the town hall
appeared before 1325 when the bell tower, the Torre del Mangia, was
added to the left.
"The need to make the event recounted more
immediate, to modernize an
episode that had occurred almost a thousand years before, made Simone
go even further. The crowd does not consist only of pagans, as the
written accounts of the event described it; Simone portrays a most
varied group of onlookers. A plump friar is shown looking up at a tree
above the scene: he looks very much like Gentile da Montefiore. Some of
the figures are praying devoutly, while others, such as the knight in
the blue hat, express astonishment and even scepticism (notice how the
other knight looks at him frowning, as though in reproach).
More of St.