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Saint John the Baptist in the desert

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo1665/1666

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla

St. John the Baptist is represented in isolation, as a hermit in the desert. His clothing is referred to in the Gospels: roughly knitted camel’s hair that covers half of his legs and arms, and a goatskin girdle at his waist. The red mantle was sometimes added as a symbol of his glorious martyrdom. In middle age, with a long beard, dishevelled hair and bare feet, his body and face bear the marks of his life of penance led in the desert. Considered by the evangelists as the last of the prophets, he announced the coming of the Messiah, so his personal and constant attribute is the Agnus Dei or Divine Lamb. He is presented as a model of conventual life.

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