Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963
St. Lawrence is framed by a border of eels and fish, beautifully executed in gold and silver foil. The saint holds his attribute, the gridiron upon which he was fried to death. The artist made a playful parallel between Lawrence's method of martyrdom and the way fish are cooked.
Suffrages are short prayers to individual saints. As protectors of medieval people, saints were their doctor in plague, their midwife at childbirth, their guardian when traveling, and their nurse during toothache. If the Virgin was the figure to whom one addressed the all-important petition for eternal salvation, it was from saints that one sought more basic or temporal kinds of help. While the Virgin became, as the Mother of God, almost a goddess herself, saints retained more of their humanity and thus their approachability.
Image courtesy of Faksimile Verlag Luzern