Saints Carrying their Heads in their Hands
ILLITERATE persons have imagined, that the representation of a Saint in this manner, was meant to shew a miracle of this kind. But we must do justice to these Saints, by wiping away the obloquy of endeavouring to impose on us this supernatural action.
It was the custom of the Painters, when they drew Saints who had suffered decapitation, to place their heads in their hands, to mark the species of martyrdom they suffered; and the headless trunk, at the same time, would have had a very repulsive effect.
It is said, that when a Lord, in the rebellion of 1745, was committed to prison, on suspicion with corresponding with the Pretender, he caused himself to be painted in the character of St. Denis carrying his head in his hand.