The Vegan Saint
A Miracle of Saint Francis of Paola is the name of the above painting hanging in the National Gallery and is attributed to Pietro Novelli, a Sicillan painter. It depicts Saint Francis of Paola, a vegan and animal lover, from the region of Calabria in southwest Italy. The story depicted is of St Francis bringing fish back to life. He and his followers began a movement that would become the foundation of the Hermits of Saint Francis of Assisi, later to be renamed the Minim friars. The name makes reference to the cornerstone of their philosophy which was humility. Being Vegan and abstaining from all animal products was the “fourth” vow of his religious order, along with the traditional vow of poverty, chastity and obedience.
He was much revered during his time and became famous for his miracles of healing the sick and returning animals to life. He was also renowned for being a prophet. Miriam Gormally met artist Eve Parnell at the National Gallery to find out more about this picture and this intriguing and much loved saint.