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One of the main functions of religious artwork is to tell a story. Throughout the ages the church has had to communicate the stories of the Bible, Saints and Martyrs to the masses. Props, gestures, rich color and light were all used to convey the divinity of the subjects as well as tell their story. In many instances the subject matter was graphic and violent but the use of light and rich colors seduces the viewer and evokes feelings of glamour and sex.
St. Francis of Assisi
Francis of Assisi astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit and without a mite of self-importance. He was known for preaching to animals and people alike as he saw all animals as god’s creatures.
St. Francis of Assisi is the patron saint of animals and ecology.
When St Agatha was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her. One of these men, Quintian, felt he could force her to acquiesce. He had her imprisoned in a brothel and she suffered a month of assault and humiliation, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. One of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she is often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread.
St Agatha is the patron saint of rape and
sexual assault survivors.
Charged as a Christian, Sebastian was tied to a tree, shot with arrows, and left for dead. He survived, and with the help of Saint Irene, recovered, and returned to preach. The emperor then had him stoned to death. During the 14th century, the random nature of infection with the Black Death caused people to liken the plague to their villages being shot by an army of nature’s archers. In desperation, they prayed for the intercession of a saint associated with archers, and Saint Sebastian became associated with the plague.
St Sebatian is the patron saint of soldiers, plagues, arrows, athletes