ORATE PRO NOBIS literally translates ‘Pray for Us’ and comes from the Litany of Saints, a formal prayer invoking the intercession of the Virgin, Martyrs and Saints of Christianity. It speaks to the idea that saints are regarded as intercessors, representing the pious to help grant their prayers throughout their lives and gaining entry to Heaven upon their death. Their depiction throughout the Italian Middle Ages and Renaissance in frescoes, public altarpieces and private devotional panels is a method of appealing to these entities and speaks to their intercessory power.
The artists of the Early Medieval Period would have relied on texts documenting the lives of the saints for their representation. The Legenda Aurea, or The Golden Legend, written by Dominican friar Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century, serves as an account for the history of saints, providing their legend, the etymology of their names and the reason for veneration. It was an immediate bestseller and became the primary source for images of the saints and their narratives.
This exhibition will attempt to examine the role of saints while learning their stories, decoding their attributes and understanding their depicted presence. The martyrs - Saint Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Lawrence -, those who influenced doctrine and created their own orders of worship – Saint Francis, Saint Dominic and Saint Augustine – and Saint John the Baptist