Saint Nicholas of Tolentino

Discover why this saint is adorned with a mantle of stars.

By Santa Clara Museum

Anonymous Piece

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino by AnonymousSanta Clara Museum

Nicholas de Tolentino, an Italian saint from the 13th century, belonged to the Order of Saint Augustine. In this painting, he wears the typical attire of the Augustinians. The tiny stars adorning the textile allude to a nocturnal episode in which they guided him to a church. 

In this small-sized oil painting, located on the predella of the pulpit altarpiece at the Santa Clara Museum, he is depicted holding a crucifix in his right hand. 

On the left, he holds a lily, a symbol of virtue. 

In this hand, he also carries a plate with a bird. This attribute commemorates one of the most notable scenes from his life. In his final days, sick and confined to his cell, he resisted eating. His superiors sent him a roasted partridge, and through a miracle, he revived it. 

He gained renown as a miraculous saint due to this scene, although it is possible that the episode is inspired by the life of his namesake, Saint Nicholas of Bari, who revived three children who were about to be taken as food. 

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino, like the Virgin of Carmen and Archangel Saint Michael, is recognized as a protector of the souls in Purgatory. 

This belief is based on an alleged vision in which a deceased friar from the Sant’Angelo convent in Tolentino asked him to pray and offer Masses for the salvation of him and other souls in Purgatory. 

Moved by compassion, Saint Nicholas celebrated Masses throughout the week for the souls in Purgatory. He also offered prayers and undertook fasts in response to the plea for help he received in his vision. 

After eight days, Saint Nicholas experienced another vision in which the same friar and the other souls explicitly expressed gratitude for his intercession on their behalf. 

The devotion to this saint gained great significance in the Catholic world, leading to the construction of churches and chapels, as well as the founding of brotherhoods in his honor. 

Saint Nicholas of Tolentino 

Anonymous Piece 
Oil on canvas  

17th century 

Credits: Story


Museum Director
María Constanza Toquica Clavijo

María Alejandra Malagón Quintero

Anamaría Torres Rodríguez
María Isabel Téllez Colmenares

Collection Management
Paula Ximena Guzmán López

Tanit Barragán Montilla

Jhonatan Chinchilla Pérez

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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