The ‘Copatronazgo’ of Saint James the Greater and Saint Teresa of Ávila

The ‘Copatronazgo’ of Saint James the Greater and Saint Teresa of Ávila

Maíno’s painting is the only known work relating to Philip IV’s contentious attempt to promote St Teresa of Ávila to the position of co-patron of Spain. Having been declared a saint in 1622, she is depicted here in the habit of the Discalced Carmelites, holding a pen and book in reference to the writings in which she recorded her mystical experiences. The golden chain around her neck, reminiscent of a chain of office, serves as a reference to the convents that she founded.

The Apostle, St James the Greater, is believed to have brought Christianity to Iberia in the years following the death of Christ. Maíno depicts him here with a sword in his right hand, a reference to his appearance at the mythical Battle of Clavijo, where he is reputed to have helped a Christian army defeat the forces of the Islamic Caliphate (see ‘Power and Authority’, 9). The white cloth over his breastplate bears the cross of the Order of Santiago, alluding to the banner with which he appeared at Clavijo, while the scallop shell on his right shoulder recalls the symbol adopted by pilgrims visiting his tomb in Santiago de Compostela. The fact that he is barefoot alludes to his role as a pilgrim. It could also represent an attempt to link him to St Teresa, who was a member of a discalced (or non-shoe-wearing) order.

Between James and Teresa, cherubs support a shield bearing the arms of the Kingdoms of Castile and Leon. The allegiance of the saints to the Habsburg monarchy and the Church is conveyed through the details on the shield’s carved frame: a crown and a cross at the top, and, at the bottom, the emblem of the Golden Fleece. Both saints look upwards towards the dove of the Holy Spirit, hovering in the golden light. Although they are depicted at an equal level, the artist depicts Teresa from an almost frontal position so as to give her prominence.

In 1626, at the request of Philip IV, the Parliament of Castile voted unanimously for Teresa to be appointed as co-patron. Yet this decision was not universally welcomed, notably by the cathedral chapters of Castile, which led a campaign to prevent its adoption. The issue was finally settled in 1629 when Pope Urban VIII (1568–1644) ruled against the co-patronage and ordered the destruction of all related images. Fortunately, Maíno’s painting survived this act of censorship, possibly because he had connections to Philip IV, both as a court painter and as his drawing teacher.

Richard Jacques, Durham University

The ‘Copatronazgo’ of Saint James the Greater and Saint Teresa of Ávila Click to zoom and pan


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Artwork Details


The ‘Copatronazgo’ of Saint James the Greater and Saint Teresa of Ávila.


Fray Juan Bautista Maíno (Pastrana, Guadalajara, 1581 – Madrid, 1649).


c. 1627.

Medium and Support

Oil on canvas.


145 x 103 cm.

Marks and Inscriptions


Acquisition Details

Jonathan Ruffer, acquired from Colnaghi.

Previous Owners

Collection of Félix Fernández-Valdés (1895–1976) and sold on his death to an unidentified buyer; acquired by Colnaghi at Sotheby’s London sale on 2 May 2018, Lot 46.


The Spanish Gallery, Bishop Auckland.


Leticia Ruiz Gómez, Juan Bautista Maíno 1581–1649 (Madrid: Museo Nacional del Prado, 2009);

Erin Kathleen Rowe, Saint and Nation: Santiago, Teresa of Avila, and Plural Identities in Early Modern Spain (Pennsylvania PA: Pennsylvania State Press, 2011);

Leticia Ruiz Gómez, ‘Dos patronos para Maíno’, Ars Magazine, 41 (2019): 140–41;

Jonathan Ruffer, Adam Lowe, & Charlotte Skene Catling, The Spanish Gallery: A Guide to the Works of Art (Bishop Auckland: The Spanish Gallery, 2021), pp. 36–37;

Isabelle Kent, ‘The Spanish Gallery, Bishop Auckland’, Burlington Magazine, 164 (2022, no. 1428): 276–83.