The Martyrdom of Saint Ursula (1610), is a painting by the Italian artist Caravaggio (1571–1610) and thought to be his last picture. It is in the Intesa Sanpaolo Collection, the Gallery of Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano, Naples.
The holy Ursula, accompanied by eleven thousand virgins, was captured by the Huns. The eleven thousand virgins were slaughtered, but the king of the Huns was overcome by Ursula's modesty and beauty and begged her forgiveness if only she would marry him. Ursula replied that she would not, upon which the king transfixed her with an arrow.
The figure favourited in Medieval and Baroque period by Italian artists.
Her legend, probably not historical, is that she was a princess who, at the request of her father King Dionotus of Dumnonia in south-west Britain, set sail to join her future husband, the pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica, along with 11,000 virginal handmaidens. After a miraculous storm brought them over the sea in a single day to a Gaulish port, Ursula declared that before her marriage she would undertake a pan-European pilgrimage. She headed for Rome with her followers and persuaded the Pope, Cyriacus(unknown in the pontifical records, though from late 384 there was a Pope Siricius), and Sulpicius, bishop of Ravenna, to join them. After setting out for Cologne, which was being besieged by Huns, all the virgins were beheaded in a massacre. The Huns' leader shot (with a bow and arrow) Ursula dead, in about 383 (the date varies).
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