The Plague and Art

Saint Rosalie Interceding for the Plague-stricken of Palermo by Anthony van Dyck / Public domain

The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art (Oxford University Press, 1996) by Peter and Linda Murray has an entry, “Plague Saints,” of whom there are 19. They mention Saints Roch (Rocco), Sebastian, Cosmas and Damian, Anthony Abbot and Charles Borromeo.

In 1624, Anthony van Dyck painted St. Rosalia while he was quarantined in Palermo, Sicily. One of these paintings is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and Jason Farago recently published this essay about it in The New York Times on March 26, 2020: “The Saint Who Stopped an Epidemic Is on Lockdown at the Met.”

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