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His attributes are few—a book, a rod
with three large hooks. But it cannot convey
the tortures, multiple, endured for God—
the rack, a gridiron, burnt flesh wrenched away.

Portrayed in deacon’s vestments, Vincent shows
no fear. He does not see the butterflies
that form the border. Why the artist chose
them is not clear; they do not symbolize

his work. Arranged along a looping vine
with berries, leaves, and scrolls, they make a wreath.
Red admirals and cabbage moths entwine—
one marked, though, by a death’s head underneath.

—Catharine Savage Brosman

See The Hours of Catherine de Cleves, with introduction and commentaries by John Plummer (New York: George Braziller [1964]).

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