This dramatic 19th century folk retablo represents ‘San Camilo de Lelis’, often referred to as the ‘Red Cross Saint’ — a reference to the red cross worn on his black habit.
San Camilo, patron saint of the sick, nurses and dying people, is almost always depicted as he is here, ministering to his patient at the hour of death. In almost every example of this subject, San Camilo is accompanied by imps and angels, each said to be vying for the ailing patient’s departing soul.
The retablo offered here is incredibly graphic – layered with allegory, whimsical vignettes and a patchwork of devilish imps shouting profanities and chastising San Camilo — “Mata Usted, Camilo”. A large ‘Cristo’ towers over the other figures to further emphasize the battle between good and evil, and assure safe passage of this patient’s impending soul.