Monday, February 24, 2014

San Diego de Alcalá

Francisco de Zurbarán 1598 - 1664
San Diego de Alcalá
1658 - 1660
Oil on canvas
93 cm x 99 cm
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

Francisco de Zurbarán 1598 - 1664
San Diego de Alcalá
Oil on canvas
116 cm x  86,60 cm
Museo Fundación Lázaro Galdiano. Madrid

San Diego de Alcalá (also known as Diego de San Nicolás) (1400 - 1463)  was  the Franciscan lay brother born in Seville but was one of the first missionaries to the newly conquered Canary Islands

He first went to Arrecife on the island of Lanzarote

Later he was sent to the Friary of Santa María de Jesús in Alcalá where he died

In English he is known as Saint Didacus

There is a strong devotion to him in Southern Spain, the Canaries and in Mexico and California

The importance of this saint is underlined by the fact that he was canonized by Pope Sixtus V in 1588, the only canonisation done during the 16th century after the Council of Trent, and the first saint of a lay brother of the Order of Friars Minor

The iconography of the painting is based on an episode of the saint`s life. He used to take bread from the table of their convent to give to the poor. One day the guardian of the convent   asked to see what he had hidden in the habit. The saint replied that they were roses and naturally as you might have expected when he uncovered what he had hidden, it was seen that the  bread had miraculously turned into flowers.

He had a profound devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and he attributed the many marvels which seemed to appear round him to her intervention

He had a passion for the Eucharist. He was an  obedient man of prayer and mortification, He lived simply and lived the virtues heroically