This is an episode from the life of the Irish missionary St Livinus, who preached in Flanders and Zeeland in the first half of the seventh century. Whilst attempting to convert non believers, he was attacked by godless robbers who tore out his tongue and threw it to the dogs. God punished his assailants with a devastating thunderbolt. The painting is the 'modello' for an enormous canvas (414 x 347 cm) that Rubens painted for the St Livinus Church in Ghent. The painting currently hangs in the museum in Brussels.