Saving His Skin

I took this photo several years ago when I led a Watertown High School student trip to Rome. We had a free afternoon and one of my students and I made the trip to the church of San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome. This church is remarkable in many ways but I was captured by this statue of St. Bartholomew, carved in 1712 by Pierre Legros.

In brief, Bartholomew was martyred by being skinned alive. But during the Second Coming, he is resurrected with a new skin. The artistic version of this story that I am most familiar with is in the Sistine Chapel in Michelangelo’s brilliant Last Judgement of Christ. In that version, too, he is holding both his old skin and the knife that was used to flay him. In Michelangelo’s version, some art historians say that the face on the old skin is the face of the artist.

I don’t know whose face is on the sculpted version I am showing here

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