Around our College school are different images of St Patrick. Because he lived well before the time of photography, we cannot be absolutely sure what he looked like. Throughout history however, different artists have painted and moulded their image of Patrick. On St Patrick’s Day (17 March) this year we added a new image of St Patrick to our school.
The new image is a print of a painting done in 1746. The artist is Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Tiepolo was an Italian artist who worked mainly in Venice in the first half of the 18th century. He is considered as the greatest European artist of the 18th century. In many ways he broke a number of the rules that artists were supposed to follow at the time. He used bold colours and worked quickly. When he painted he said he had a vision and he needed to paint what he saw as quickly as possible before the vision was lost. One of his contemporary artist friends described Tiepolo as being ‘all spirit and fire’.
The new image was commissioned by the authorities in the Cathedral in Padua, a major town in Italy. It is interesting that 1300 hundred years after the death of St Patrick and in a place far away from Ireland, he was so well known that people asked for his image. At that time, 17 March was already being celebrated as St Patrick’s special day in that part of Italy.
The image shows St Patrick as a worker of miracles. The setting is not in Ireland but is more probably Venice. Different people sit and stand below St Patrick and they appear entranced by what he is saying and doing. There is a dishevelled dark haired woman, an old crippled man, a country woman with her son and a very well dressed blond woman wearing pearls. The artist appears to be saying that Patrick’s message is a message for all people. The artist has a message for each one of us today.
The College’s Miracle of St Patrick was blessed by the Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, on 17 March 2016, and now hangs in the College Administration area.