20 September is the feast day of St. Eustace, a Roman general who died in 118 during the reign of emperor Trajan. Known in Italy as Eustachio, he converted to Christianity after seeing a stag with a Crucifix between its antlers while hunting. When he refused praise the Roman gods, he and his family, who had also been baptized, were condemned to death. Popular in Byzantium, the legend of St. Eustace was popularized in Western Europe through The Golden Legend. Northern Italian artist Pisanello created one of the best-known images of Eustace’s miraculous vision, where the saint hunts in a lush, animal-filled wood. Federico Zuccaro designed a fresco to decorate a house whose facade overlooked the Piazza Sant’Eustachio, home to the small church dedicated to the saint in central Rome. Today, one can enjoy a fantastic cappuccino at the caffè of the same name across the piazza.
Pisanello, The Vision of Saint Eustace, ca. 1438-42. London: The National Gallery.
Federico Zuccaro, The Vision of Saint Eustace, bef. 1566. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rogers Fund, 1962.
Caffè Sant’Eustachio, Piazza Sant’Eustachio, Rome