Author: Lodovico David

Dating: Circa 1675

Century: 17th century

Technique: Oil on canvas

Location: Central nave, seventh right arch (on the map number 15)


Lodovico David was active in the Venetian art scene from 1667 and remained in the lagoon city until 1684. He was commissioned by the Carmelites to create this work, in which art critics detect influences of Correggio and Emilian painting in general.

Pope Giovanni XXII, portrayed in the painting, was elected pontiff in 1316. He was very active in both the administrative and fiscal reforms of the Papal States and European and Italian politics. According to tradition, he claimed jurisdiction in the imperial competition between Ludwig IV of Bavaria and Frederick I of Habsburg, also known as Frederick the Fair. He engaged in a conflict with Ludwig IV, going as far as excommunicating him in 1324. Ludwig accused the pope of heresy, and in turn, the pope declared Ludwig deposed from his rights to the empire. Ludwig then came to Italy, where he was crowned once again as the King of Italy (1327) and Emperor (1328). He, in turn, declared Giovanni XXII deposed and proclaimed Pope Pietro da Corvara with the name Nicholas V, who was later imprisoned by Giovanni XXII.

In the painting, the Madonna, wearing the scapular symbol of the Carmelite Order, appears to the pope to seek protection for the Order. If this had happened, Giovanni XXII would have received divine aid in his struggle against the emperor. By showing the scapular, the Virgin Mary encourages the Catholic world to spread this devotional sign among Christians. Furthermore, the Madonna is delivering to the pope the text of a new bull, called the “Sabatina,” confirming the salvific commitment of heaven.

Mary has a smiling face but strangely does not wear a veil, and her long hair is blown by the wind. The pope is depicted kneeling with outstretched arms, seen from behind. The cherubs flying around add movement to the scene. At the bottom left, two figures happily and surprisedly witness the holy event.