Images of Medieval Art and Architecture

France: Vézelay
Benedictine Abbey Church of Sainte-Marie-Madeleine

Nave: Historiated Capital
Vision of St. Anthony (?)


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Subject Matter

On the left face of the capital, a bare-footed figure (St. Anthony?) leans forward and puts his hands together (in prayer? In terror?). It is wearing what appears to be a cape with a hood ?

On the central face of the Capital, a figure, suspended from a tower, is tormented by three demons. The tower is in the center of the capital and is a tall, truncated shaft. For most of its height, it is relatively featureless, but at the top, slightly set back, is a section with two tall narrow windows with rounded arches at the top. Through the sides of this storey a large figure lies on its back. The viewer sees the figure's side, which is parallel with the face of the capital. The figure is wearing a short garment with decorated neck, sleeves, and hem. It is being tormented by three demons. One of the demons, on the left, pulls the suspended figure's beard. On the front of the capital, in front of the tower, another demon is suspended, pulling the hair of the figure in the tower. To the right is another, larger demon, which pulls on the suspended figures right arm and left leg. The demons are naked and their ribs and muscles are visible (emaciated? Flayed?) They have large round heads and open mouths with flat teeth. All have feathered wings and at least one has a small tail, The one on the left has relatively short hair, but the other two have the bushy hair often associated with demons at Vézelay. (see nave capitals 6, 15, 21, 31, 56, Narthex capital 11)

Most scholars interpret this capital as the vision of Saint Anthony the Hermit.

Location within Floorplan Placement in Elevation

Salet: Number 62-

North side of nave.
North side of eighth arcade pier.

Related Material

Click here to see other Vézelay capitals showing episodes from the Lives of Saints


Salet, p. 187.

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Created by J. Vadnal, September, 1998