(b. 1541, Candia, d. 1614, Toledo)

Apostle St Philip

Oil on canvas, 97 x 77 cm
Museo de El Greco, Toledo

St Philip was from Bethsaida and was one of the first to be called to follow Christ. He was said to have journeyed to Scythia preaching the gospel. In the city of Hierapolis he succeeded, with the aid of the cross, in banishing a serpent or dragon which was the object of worship in the temple of Mars. As the monster emerged it gave off such a stink that many people died. The enraged priests of the temple captured Philip and crucified him. According to a tradition in the eastern Church Philip was crucified upside down like Peter.

His place in art is not prominent and devotional figures and scenes from his life are fairly rare. He is represented as a man in middle years, usually with a short beard. His attribute is the cross. In this representation by El Greco St Philip turns towards the cross on which he was believed to have been martyred; the short arm of the cross appears at the top of the picture.