Saturday, November 28, 2020

11 works, Today, November 28th, is Martyr Stephen the New's day, his story, illustrated #331

Santo Peranda, (1566-1638)
The Martyrdom of St. Stephen
View this image in full resolution
Church of San Stefano, Venice, Italy

The canvas is done in Peranda's usual grand style, full of energy yet carefully composed to balance the half-circle of light enclosing the heavenly figures and the luminous triangle described by the Father, Son, and Stephen, who wears a dalmatic such as would be worn by deacons of the artist's time. More on this work

Sante Peranda (1566–1638) was an Italian painter of the late-Renaissance period.

He was a pupil of Leonardo Corona and later Palma il Giovane. Also known as Santo Peranda. He painted a Descent from the cross for San Procolo in Venice. He painted The defeat of the Saracens for the Ducal Palace of Modena. He painted the Gathering of the Manna for the church of the San Bartolome. In 1623 he finished Glorious Mysteries for the church of San Nicolò in Treviso. Among his pupils were Francesco Maffei, Matteo Ponzone, and Filippo Zaniberti. More on Sante Peranda

The Holy Monk Martyr and Confessor Stephen the New was born in 715 at Constantinople into a pious Christian family. His parents, having two daughters, prayed the Lord for the birth of a son. The mother of the new-born Stephen took him to the Blakhernae church in honour of the Most Holy Mother of God and dedicated him to God.

Unknown artist
Synaxarion of the Holy Confessor Stephen the New
I have no further description, at this time

During the time of the emperor Leo the Isaurian (716-741) there began persecution against holy icons and against those venerating them. With the support of the emperor, the adherents of the Iconoclast heresy seized control of the supreme positions of authority in the empire and in the Church. 

Unknown artist

Emperor Leo the Isaurian and the Iconoclasts rubbing out an image of Christ. Left Council of Constantinople, 815. Illumination from a manuscript psalter made in the Monastery of Studios, Constantinople.

Persecuted by the powers of this world, Orthodoxy was preserved in monasteries distant from the capital, in solitary cells and in the brave and faithful hearts of its followers. The Orthodox parents of Saint Stephen, grieved by the surrounding impiety, fled from Constantinople to Bithynia, and they gave over their sixteen year old son in obedience to Blessed John, who asceticised in a solitary place on the Mount of Saint Auxentios. Saint Stephen dwelt more than 15 years with Blessed John, having devoted himself totally to this spirit-bearing elder, and learning monastic activity from him. Here then Stephen received the news that his father was dead, and his mother and sisters had taken monastic tonsure.

Unknown artist
Saint Stephen the Younger, c.1651
Church of Agios Georgios, of Vounos, Kastoria.

Saint Stephen the Younger is depicted as a Magnificent Monk, having next to him the chronographer Saint Theophanes of Syriani, who recorded the life and martyrdom of Saint Stephen. The two holy Confessors are shown holding among themselves a small portable image of Christ, indicative of their praiseworthy and successful struggles for the final restoration of the sacred icons.

After a certain while his teacher, Blessed John, also died. With deep sorrow Saint Stephen buried his venerable body, and by himself continued with monastic effort in his cave. Soon monks began to come to the ascetic, desiring to learn from him the virtuous and salvific life, and there gradually emerged a monastery, the hegumen of which was Saint Stephen. At forty-two years of age Stephen left the monastery founded by him, and he went to another mountain, on the summit of which he dwelt in deep seclusion in a solitary cell. But here also soon gathered a community of monks, seeking the spiritual guidance of Saint Stephen.

Unknown artist
Miniature from the 9th-century Chludov Psalter with scene of iconoclasm
Iconoclasts John Grammaticus and Anthony I of Constantinople

Chludov Psalter; Moscow, Hist. Mus. MS. D.129) is an illuminated marginal Psalter made in the middle of the 9th Century. It is a unique monument of Byzantine art at the time of the Iconoclasm, one of only three illuminated Byzantine Psalters to survive from the 9th century. More on the Chludov Psalter

Leo the Isaurian was succeeded by Constantine Copronymos (741-775), a still more fierce persecutor of the Orthodox pious, and still more zealous an iconoclast. The emperor convened an Iconoclast council, to which came 358 bishops from the Eastern provinces. However, except for the archbishop of Constantinople Constantine, – illegitimately raised up onto the patriarchal throne by the power of Copronymos, not one of the other patriarchs bothered to participate in the council, thus making it all the less able to usurp the term "oecumenical". 

Unknown artist
Argument about icons before the emperor, in the Skylitzis Chronicle, c. 13th century

This council of heretics, at the instigation of the emperor and the archbishop, described icons as idols, and proscribed anathema on all who venerate icons in the Orthodox manner, and it described icon veneration as heresy.

Unknown artist
Monastic Martyr and Confessor Stephen the New
I have no further description, at this time

Meanwhile, the monastery of Saint Stephen and its hegumen became known of in the capital. They told the emperor about the ascetic life of the monks, and the open encouragement of icon-veneration and therein the rebuff to the persecutors of Orthodoxy.

Sebastiano del Piombo, (1485–1547)
The slandered nun courageously denied guilt
Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, c. 1520
 Oil on panel
Height: 127 cm (50 in); Width: 178 cm (70 in)
Pitti Palace, Florence

Sebastiano del Piombo (c. 1485 – 21 June 1547), byname of Sebastiano Luciani, was an Italian painter of the High Renaissance and early Mannerist periods famous as the only major artist of the period to combine the coloring of the Venetian school in which he was trained with the monumental forms of the Roman school.

His nickname derived from the lucrative Papal appointment as Keeper of the Seal, which he held from 1531. Never a very disciplined or productive painter, his artistic productivity fell still further after this, which committed him to attend on the pope most days, and travel with him. He now painted mostly portraits, and relatively few works of his survive compared to his great contemporaries in Rome. This limited his involvement with the Mannerist style of his later years.

Having achieved success as a lutanist when young, he turned to painting and trained with Giovanni Bellini and Giorgione. When he first went to Rome he worked with Raphael and then became one of the few painters to get on well with Michelangelo, who tried to promote his career by encouraging to compete for commissions against Raphael. More on Sebastiano del Piombo

They tried to entice Saint Stephen into the Iconoclast camp, at first with flattery and bribery, then by threats, but in vain. Then they slandered the saint, accusing him of co-habiting with nuns. But his guilt was not proven, since the slandered nun courageously denied guilt and died under torture and beatings. Finally, the emperor gave orders to lock up the saint in prison, and to destroy his monastery. 

Unknown artist
Byzantine pillar-dweller
I have no further description, at this time

Then the emperor gave orders to exile the saint to one of the islands in the Sea of Marmora. The monk settled into a cave, and there also soon gathered his disciples. After a certain while the saint left the brethren and took upon himself the exploit of pillar-dweller. 

The emperor then gave orders to transfer Saint Stephen to prison on the island of Pharos, and then to bring him to trial. At the trial, the saint refuted the arguments of the heretics sitting in judgement upon him. 

The emperor gave orders to take away the saint to prison, where already there were languishing 342 elders, condemned for the veneration of icons. And In this prison Saint Stephen spent eleven months, consoling the imprisoned. 

The emperor, – having learned that in prison the saint had organised a monastery, sent two of his servants to beat the saint to death. When they went to the prison and beheld the face of the monk shining with a Divine light, they fell down on their knees to him, asking his forgiveness and prayers, but they told the emperor that his command had been carried out. 

Peter Paul Rubens, (1577–1640)
The Martyrdom of St Stephen, between 1616 and 1617
Oil on canvas
Height: 437 cm (14.3 ft); Width: 278 cm (109.4 in)
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes, France

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.

In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

But the emperor learned the truth and he resorted to still another lie. Informing his soldiers, that the saint had intentions to topple him from the throne, he dispatched them to the prison. The holy confessor himself came out half the way to the furious soldiers, who seized hold of him and dragged him through the streets of the city. They then threw the lacerated body of the martyr into a pit, where they were wont to bury criminals.

On the following morning over Mount Auxentios there appeared a fiery cloud, and then an heavy darkness descended upon the capital with a fierce thunderstorm, which struck at much. More on Holy Monk Martyr and Confessor Stephen the New

Unknown artist
Vita scene from the Life of St Stephen of Sourozh, c. 17th-century
Russian icon
22.8 x 19.6 cm
Private collection

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