Saint Tekla and Her Lion

Princeton University has a beautiful art museum, with a Medieval room filled with haunting images. Reliquaries, tapestries, bits of architecture. In one case is this arresting figure, I knew nothing about when I first saw her. I soon learned that St. Tekla was a fascinating and inspiring woman. Whatever the actual truth about her life, both her story and her face compelled me to paint her. Legend had it that the Romans arrested her for her beliefs and threw her in the arena where they introduced a lion. But instead of devouring her, the creature just laid his head gently on her lap. Who could resist THAT?