COSTA, Lorenzo the Elder
(b. ca. 1460, Ferrara, d. 1535, Mantova)

Legend of Sts Cecilia and Valerian, Scene 2

1504-06
Fresco
Oratory of St Cecilia, San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna

Scene 2 of the Cecilia cycle in the Oratory of St Cecilia, painted by Lorenzo Costa, depicts - together with scenes 3 and 4 - the conversion of Valerian. A tall archway allows us to see into the building to the right in the background, where in a tiny secondary scene Cecilia and Valerian have a talk on their wedding night. In the course of it Valerian learns that she is , and that she intends to remain a virgin even in marriage. She promises that he too will be able to see the angel who protects her if only he accepts Christianity. At her suggestion Valerian goes in search of Pope Urban, who is living in hiding outside Rome. In the vicinity of Via Appia he encounters some poor people who tell him how to find the pontiff. This scene is presented in the middle distance. In the foreground scene Valerian has arrived at the pope's retreat and is cleansed of his sins.




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