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Why Is There A 450-Year-Old Catholic Statue Of A Flayed Saint In The Middle Of Milan?

Updated 21 Jun 2019 30.5k views14 items

Visitors to Milan's Duomo are often shocked by the Saint Bartholomew statue. Unlike other statues in the church, Saint Bartholomew stands completely naked, wearing his own skin thrown over his shoulder. That's because Saint Bartholomew was flayed, literally skinned alive as a punishment for converting people to Christianity. Sculpted by Marco d'Agrate in 1562, the statue of St. Bartholomew shows the apostle completely stripped of his skin, holding a knife in his hand. 

Bartholomew was just one of many Christian martyrs who suffered a gruesome demise. St. Lawrence was roasted alive on a grill over hot coals. St. Euphemia was fed to lions and bears. And St. Castulus was buried alive. Why did artists paint and sculpt scenes of torment? Martyrdom was a badge of honor for these Christian saints because their suffering brought them closer to Christ. By showing a skinned saint, artists drove home the story of Bartholomew's life.

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