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Saint Expeditus. Oil painting by a painter of Palermo, 18--.

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Credit: Saint Expeditus. Oil painting by a painter of Palermo, 18--. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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About this work


On Saint Expeditus see L. Réau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, vol. III, Paris 1958, p. 481. His name has given rise to his cult as a saint capable to expedite and achieve any secular end, especially success in trade, in examinations, and in lawsuits. Though much favoured in popular religion, his name was struck off the list of martyrs by Pius XI in 1905, and his image was banned from churches, without success

The canvas is divided by black line-borders into ten scenes. The central compartment (89 x 41.5 cm) shows Saint Expeditus, full-length, dressed as a Roman legionary. Under his right foot he tramples a crow in whose beak is a banderolle inscribed "CRAS" (tomorrow). In his right hand he holds a cross inscribed "HODIE" (today). In his left hand he holds a martyr's palm. In the background, two churches. Below, lettering "S. E [erased] SPEDITO MARTIRE"

Of the two scenes along the top of the canvas, the left one (40.5 x 65.8 cm) appears to show the exhumation or reinterment of Saint Expeditus, or of a figure of the saint, being blessed by a bishop attended by officials and other people in 19th-century dress. The right scene (40.7 x 65.5 cm.) shows a statue of the saint being borne into a church and, in the foreground, people kneeling before the same officials (policemen?) asking for mercy

Of the four scenes on the sides, the upper left one (44.7 x 42.5 cm.) shows a sick-room, with a patient in bed, very ill, three bystanders making gestures of despair, and a statue of Saint Expeditus in a wall-shrine. The upper right one (46 x 43 cm.) shows a sick-room with a patient in bed, a physician taking the patient's pulse, four bystanders in prayer, and a wall-shrine bearing a figure of Saint Expeditus

The lower left scene (44.8 x 42.7 cm) shows a steamship in a storm at sea, with passengers praying to the saint shown as a figure in the sky. The lower right scene (45.4 x 38.5 cm.) shows the steamship in harbour and, on the dockside, a statue of Saint Expeditus being carried in procession, escorted by a band and a cheering crowd

Of the three scenes along the bottom, the left one (47 x 50.4 cm.) appears to show the printing of votive prints of Saint Expeditus on two presses by young inmates of a religious institution under the eyes of two priests. The middle scene (45.7 x 42.5 cm.) shows a man in a brown and purple striped uniform (of prison?) praying in a chapel of Saint Expeditus. The right scene (46 x 38.2 cm.) shows a street outside a prison-window, where a woman and two other people hold up a coloured picture of Saint Expeditus to show it to a man imprisoned behind bars


[Palermo], [18--]

Physical description

1 painting : oil on canvas ; canvas approximately 182 x 133 cm


S. Spedito martire. Cras. Hodie.


Wellcome Library no. 47484i


  • Italian
  • Latin

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