Luca Signorelli: The life of Saint Benedict - saint Benedict recognizes and receives Totila (1499-1502)


(Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Tuscany, Italy)

A fresco by the Italian artist Luca Signorelli (1445-1523). This fresco is part of series called "The life of Saint Benedict" in the Benedictine monastery of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in Italy. Depicted is a meeting between the saint and king Totila of the Ostrogoths (reign A.D. 541–552). Totila heard that the saint had the gift of prophecy and send a member of his guard, Ricco, te pretend that he was the king, in order to test the saint. Benedict saw through the masquerade and recognized Totila as the true Ostrogoth king and profesized that Totila would reign for another 9 years and would die in the tenth:

"Then Totilas himself in person went unto the man of God; and seeing him sitting afar off, he durst not come near, but fell down to the ground: whom the holy man (speaking to him twice or thrice) desired to rise up and at length came unto him, and with his own hands lifted him up from the earth, where he lay prostrate: and then, entering into talk, he reprehended him for his wicked deeds, and in few words told him all that which should befall him, saying: "Much wickedness do you daily commit, and many great sins have you done: now at length give over your sinful life. Into the city of Rome shall you enter, and over the sea shall you pass: nine years shall you reign, and in the tenth shall you leave this mortal life." The king, hearing these things, was wonderfully afraid, and desiring the holy man to commend him to God in his prayers, he departed: and from that time forward he was nothing so cruel as before he had been. Not long after he went to Rome, sailed over into Sicily, and, in the tenth year of his reign, he lost his kingdom together with his life."
(Pope Gregory I's Dialogues ii 14-15)

Fresco from 1499-1502.

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