Saturday, January 24, 2009

St Eustace

The Legend of St Eustace, [painting].(detail)
Canterbury Cathedral , England

Titian (about 1487-1576)
St Eustace c.1515
Drawing: black chalk
216.000 mm x 316.000 mm
The British Museum, London

Today I was on a trip to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, always a pleasant and interesting experience.

On a visit to Canterbury Cathedral in Kent, one cannot miss a medieval wall painting of the Life of St Eustace. St Eustace was a very popular saint especially in medieval times. Now the position is otherwise.

Eustace was a Roman martyr who, while secretly hunting on Good Friday, converted to Christianity on seeing this stag with a crucufux in its antlers.

He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptised, and changed his name to Eustace (meaning "good fortune" or "fruitful"). A series of calamities followed to test his faith.

He refused to make a pagan sacrifice. The emperor, Hadrian, condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118

The story was popularised in Jacobus de Voragine's "Golden Legend"

Now regarded as legend, his name was removed from the Catholic calendar.