Lombardy : Saint Peter Martyr and the Three Donors
Giovanni di Balduccio’s Saint Peter Martyr and the Three Donors is a marble relief created in 1340. It comes from Milan and is one of three panels that survived from a tomb in the Milanese Church of Sant’Eustorgio. In this panel relief, Giovanni di Balduccio uses symbolism and visual guides to show the viewers an ample amount of information to tell Saint Peter Martyr’s story in a small amount of space as well as revealing the importance of using a tomb as a honorary monument at this time.
Saint Peter Martyr, also known as, Saint Peter of Verona, was a 13th Century Italian Catholic priest. He was a Dominican friar in the Church of Sant’Eustorgio and a celebrated preacher among his followers. The violent and brutal death of Saint Peter Martyr shocked the people of Milan and the members of the Milanese Church of Sant’Eustorgio, influencing the commission of Giovanni di Balduccio’s work.
Creating visible and elaborately decorated monument set above ground in a church for a venerated individual became more common in the High Middle Ages. Milan erected a monumental tomb for Saint Peter Martyr for political and religious factors. This elaborate shrine not only played a large role in the religious order, but also promoted the dominance of Milan as a civic entity. The hope was to use the tomb of Saint Peter Martyr as a visible focus of devotion to draw pilgrims to their city, strengthening their economy.