Artwork of the month: “St. Benedict of Palermo”

27October 2011

One of the recent acquisitions at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, a sculpture of St. Benedict of Palermo, is so stunning you are truly missing out if you don’t go see it right now.
Attributed to José Montes de Oca
Spanish, 1675-1750
“St. Benedict of Palerno”
1734, polychrome and gilt wood, glass
St. Benedict was the first christian saint of african origin to be canonized.  And as with all saints, it took a while for it to be official with the church, this guy more so because of who he was.
He was born in Sicily, 1524, to parents that were freed slaves from Ethiopia.  Yep, he was a black man and the church wasn’t progressive enough at the time to canonize a black man.  He was beatified by Pope Benedict XIV in 1743 then canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
St. Benedict was know for his extraordinary religious devotion, patience and understanding when confronted with racial prejudice, and acts as a truly devoted man of god.
“St. Benedict of Palermo” was purchased by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 2010.