Compare the ancient "portrait", on the left, frescoed in the Basilica presbytery, and the scientific reconstruction of his face, on the right, to see immediately a marked difference. How can this be explained?
Art, over the centuries, has imposed very different looks. We cannot expect historical objectivity from artists. They make interpretations conditioned by the sensibilities of the era, from the prevalent hagiographic trend, to the public's request.
Rather than representing the saint in his earthly form, in his historical context, they tend to portray him in his present status as a resident of heaven, as one who has reached his heavenly destination, as an intercessor immersed in the glory of God. Thus the emphasis lies on youth and immateriality; it is an intent to transfigure.
How is "frater Antonius" represented?
The Franciscan biography Vita prima notes that St. Anthony was burdened with a tendency towards corpulence and troubled by continual infirmity. The legend called Raymundina interprets this as "dropsy". We now know that this term has had different meanings over the centuries, and so it is difficult to know which of these definitions was intended.
Following the latest recognition of his mortal remains (January 1981) the team of experts made detailed analyses which provide us with precious information.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
June 13th - For the Upcoming Feast of St. Anthony of Padua - His Face