St. Augustine Windows
Death and resurrection
There is some disagreement at Villanova about what this image is. From the expressions of the figures in the bottom of the panel, it would appear to be a death scene. But whose death? The official interpretation is that this is is the death of St. Augustine, with an angel above him about to crown him. The problem with this interpretation is that Augustine looks very much alive in the image.
Another possibility is that the dying person is the reclining figure (which appears to be a woman) in the very center of the picture. Could this be St. Monica? Her death was a major event in Augustine's life, and it is an important element in Confessions (9.11.27). Gozzoli gives it great importance in the frescoes. But in all of the other windows Monica has a halo, this woman has none. The artist chooses to hide her body behind the window frame (whereas you would expect her to have more prominence). Monica herself, however, thought that her dead body was of no significance; she said "Lay this body anywhere, and take no trouble over it." On this interpretation, the artist de-emphasizes the body of the dead woman to reflect the sense that Monica has been, as Augustine says, "set free from her body" (9.11.28).
|Conversion||Baptism||Vision||Death||Writing Confessions||Pelagianism||Sea Shell||Giving the Rule|
Images are from the stained glass windows of St. Thomas of Villanova Church. Quotations from St. Augustine's Confessions, translated by Maria Boulding, O.S.B., (Hyde Park, New York: New City Press) 1997. Author: John Immerwahr. June 24, 2008.