(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
The Miracle of Mannac. 1577
Oil on canvas, 550 x 520 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice
This painting is on the ceiling of the Sala Superiore.
It is no coincidence that the divine food which saved the Israelites from starving to death after the exodus from Egypt here takes the form of the Host, for the rain of manna was regarded as an Old Testament anticipation of the bread of the Eucharist. This ceiling picture in the Chapter Hall of the Confraternity of St Roch was therefore placed near the altar.
Tintoretto illustrates the sudden darkening of the sky by spreading the awning-like canopy between olive trees. Sheep and shepherds have just taken shelter from the heat of the mid-day sun, and now the improvised roof above them sags under the weight of the manna. The clouds of the sudden storm are actually raining Eucharistic wafers. These are gathered up in every available receptacle, even in a blanket hung to keep off the no-longer-shining sun.