This painting depicts a ‘sacred conversation’ between St Felix de Valois and St Juan de la Mata at the moment when, according to legend, a stag appeared before them carrying a red and blue cross between its antlers. The story is sometimes related to either one of the saints but has here been applied to both.
The sign of the stag with a cross confirmed the saints in their intention to travel to Rome and found a religious order, an idea which had already been suggested by an earlier vision, when an angel appeared to them. Together they drew up the rules of the Order of the Holy Trinity (or Order of the Trinitarians), founded in 1199. The symbol of the Order is a red and blue cross and the original objective was the liberation of Christian slaves from the Infidel, or the recue of captive Christians.
Formerly thought to be by Colombian artist Gregorio Vásquez (1638-1711), this painting has since been identified as an 18th-century work from the city of Cuzco, Peru. It was probably made for a Trinitarian monastery in Cuzco and may have been one of a series of paintings about the life of the two saints depicted, or the foundation of the Order of the Holy Trinity.
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