Under the Protection of the Most High (Psalm 91)

The plague, also known as the Black Death, raged in Europe from the 14th to the 17th century. Lack of hygiene and poor living conditions caused the pandemic to flare up again every few decades. Protective measures taken by the common people consisted of prayer, self-flagellation or the taking of vows. A life of penance was deemed the best cure and means of defence. In their times of greatest need, people turned to special patron saints: Saint Roch, himself struck down by the disease, or the Bishop of Milan, Saint Charles Borromeo, who selflessly cared for victims of pestilence. Together with Sebastian, the early Christian martyr, they are among the most important plague saints.


Christ appointing Saint Roch as Patron Saint of plague victims

Anonymous, 17th century

Eris in peste Patronus. Christ appointing Saint Roch as Patron Saint of plague victims.


Saint Sebastian tended by Saint Irene

Martin Johann Schmidt (1718–1801)

Martin Johann Schmidt produced multiple depictions exploring the theme of St Sebastian being cared for by St Irene. Famous altarpieces with this motif can be found in Opponitz, Pöchlarn, Hof Arnsdorf, and in Straßengel near Graz.


Charles Borromeo offers the Lord’s Supper to the plague victims

François de Poilly (1623–1693)

Saint Charles Borromeo came from the noble Borromeo family. When a major famine broke out in 1570 and in turn was followed by the plague raging in Milan six years later, he took care of the sick, had hospitals built and introduced rules of behaviour to combat the epidemic.


Alte Galerie, Schloss Eggenberg

Eggenberger Allee 90
8020 Graz, Österreich
T +43-316/8017-9560


Opening Hours

April to October Tue-Sun, public holidays 10am-6pm 
1 November to 17 December only with guided tour by prior appointment

Opening Hours Library
Tues–Fri 10am–12pm and afternoons by appointment only