Purchased on the Belle da Costa Greene Fund with the assistance of the Fellows, 1963
Dressed as a deacon, Vincent holds a book and a spiked hoe, instrument of his martyrdom. He is framed by intertwined (raspberry?) vines upon which eight butterflies have alighted. At the upper left, the red admiral can be identified by the image of the skull that appears on the underside of its wing. Valentine, also dressed as a deacon, holds the sword of his martyrdom. He is framed by delicate flowers with thin leaves. At the bottom, two dragonflies devour a fly (or bee).
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