SODOMA, Il
(b. 1477, Vercelli, d. 1549, Siena)

Life of St Benedict, Scene 33: Benedict Gives Posthumous Absolution to Two Nuns

1505-08
Fresco
Abbazia, Monteoliveto Maggiore

Scene 33 of the cycle on the life of St Benedict depicts as Benedict gives posthumous absolution to two nuns, fleeing from their graves during Mass, whom he had threatened with excommunication.

One notable scene of the cycle is devoted to the story of two haughty and talkative nuns whom Benedict had threatened with excommunication (Scene 33). Both died soon afterward, and during Mass their nurse saw how they rose up out of their graves and fled from the church. Benedict promptly administered the host to the errant souls, thereby luring them back into the bosom of the community.

The composition of this scene is clearly indebted to Pinturicchio's cycle in the Piccolomini Library in Siena. The shape of the interior and arrangement of the picture space are borrowed from the scene of Enea Silvio Piccolomini's coronation as Pius II, whereas the grouping of figures, especially that of the ones seen from the back in the foreground, recall the scene in which Piccolomini is elevated to the rank of cardinal.




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