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Panel 24 - A Jewish merchant flogs a statue of Nicholas for not protecting his valuables
Panel 24 - A Jewish merchant flogs a statue of Nicholas for not protecting his valuables
Description:
Another scene much beloved of art historians because it shows an image being used - and abused - in a 'domestic context'. Once again, Voraginus (in William Granger Ryan's translation) tells the story far better than I ever could;

Another Jew, seeing the miraculous power of St Nicholas, ordered a statue of the saint and placed it in his house. Whenever he had to be away for a long time, he addressed the statue in these, or similar words; “Nicholas I leave you in charge of my goods, and if you do not watch over them as I demand, I shall avenge myself by beating you.” Then, one time when he was absent, thieves broke in and carried off all they found, leaving only the statue. When the Jew came home and saw that he had been robbed, he said to the statue; “Sir Nicholas, did I not put you in my house to guard my goods? Why then did you not do so and keep the thieves away? Well, then, you will pay the penalty! I shall make up for my loss and cool my anger by smashing you to bits!” And he did indeed beat the statue. But then a wondrous thing happened! The saint appeared to the robbers as they were dividing their spoils and said to them: “See how I have been beaten on your account! My body is still black and blue! Quick! Go and give back what you have taken, or the anger of God will fall upon you [...]” Terrified they ran to the Jew’s house, told him of their vision, learned from him what he had done to the statue, restored all his property, and returned to the path of righteousness. The Jew, for his part, embraced the faith of the Saviour.