Chapel of Nicholas V, Vatican

(Cappella Nicolina; 1448)
   In 1448, Pope Nicholas V charged Fra Angelico with the commission to render frescoes in his private chapel at the Vatican depicting the lives of Sts. Stephen and Lawrence. Based on the biblical Acts of the Apostles and Jacobus da Voragine's Golden Legend, respectively, the scenes depict the consecration of each saint as deacon, their distribution of alms to the poor, their judgments, and martyrdoms. Additionally, St. Stephen is shown preaching in the presence of the Doctors of the Church, and St. Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church from Pope Sixtus II, who in the frescoes bears Nicholas V's likeness. The reason for the pairing of these two saints is that St. Stephen's body arrived in Rome from Jerusalem in the sixth century, and was then reburied at S. Lorenzo Fuori le Mura alongside St. Lawrence's remains. Nicholas V had the saints' tombs reopened in 1447, and both were found to be well preserved. The frescoes in Nicholas' chapel celebrate this miraculous event.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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