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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Saint Vincent of Saragossa

Scenes from the Passion of Saint Vincent of Saragossa and the History of His Relics, 1244–1247
French; From the Church of St. Germain-des-Prés, Paris
Pot-metal glass with vitreous paint; 147 x 43 1/2 in. (373.4 x 110.5 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Grande Chapelle de la Vierge, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, c.1244–47, from A. Lenoir, ‘Statistique monumentale de Paris’, 3 vols, Paris, 1867, I, pl. XII.


Saint Vincent is an exemplar of Christian piety in defiance of pagan authority. He was the Protomartyr of Spain, the earliest known Spanish martyr.. He suffered death in AD 304.

The account of the Passion of St Vincent of Saragossa appeared as early as 400 in the Peristephanon (‘Crowns of Martyrdom’), a collection of poems by the Spanish Christian writer Prudentius of Calahorra.

It was also recounted in the Legenda Sanctorum or Golden Legend, an anthology of saints’ lives collected by the Bishop of Genoa, Jacobus de Voragine in the 1260s

Saint Vincent was born at Saragossa. Under the direction of Valerius, Bishop of Sargossa, Vincent made great progress in his studies.

He was ordained deacon and commissioned to do the preaching in the diocese, the bishop having an impediment of speech.

By order of the Governor Dacian he and his bishop were dragged in chains to Valencia and kept in prison for a long time.

Then Valerius was banished, but Vincent was subjected to many cruel torments, the rack, the gridiron, and scourgings. He was again imprisoned, in a cell strewn with potsherds. He was next placed in a soft and luxurious bed, to shake his constancy, but here he expired.

The monks of Saint-Germain-des-Prés held a special devotion for Vincent—their abbey had been founded to receive a relic of the saint's tunic, which had been transported from Spain by the Merovingian king Childebert I.