Friday, April 13, 2012

A saint before his or her time

Saint Onuphrius

In the carved tuff of the Snake Church in Anatolia is this strange character, Saint Onuphrius, the person on the left.  The naked saint seems to have the body of a woman, and the head of a man.  A plant or something may have been added later to cover part of the body.  There are other, more normal, paintings of Saint Onuphrius, this is the exception.

Saints tend to be male, clothed, and saintly, and this does not fit the mold.  The Greek gods, who predate this Saint, could be considered less saintly, had many non-standard and very human variants.  Was this painted by a Greek with a sense of humor?   Greece is not far away; in the neighborhood.