Our new play The Seven Acts of Mercy is based on a painting by Caravaggio.

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio was an Italian painter born in Milan, Italy. Forgotten almost immediately after his death in 1610 it was only in the 20th century that his importance to the development of Western art was rediscovered. 

The Seven Acts of Mercy (also known as The Seven Works of Mercy) was Caravaggio’s first masterpiece painting since he killed a man and fled to Rome. 

Originally commissioned by the Church of Pio Monte della Misericordia in Naples the painting still hangs there. Caravaggio’s painting is linked to Matthew 25:35.

Caravaggio's painting, the Seven Acts of Mercy
The Seven Acts of Mercy - Caravaggio
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What are the Seven Acts of Mercy?

The seven acts represented in Caravaggio's masterpiece are:

Visit the imprisoned, and feed the hungry

On the right, a woman visits an imprisoned man and gives him milk from her breast. This image alludes to the classical story of Roman Charity.

Bury the dead

In the background, two men carry a dead man (only his feet are visible).

Shelter the homeless

A pilgrim (third from left) asks an innkeeper for shelter.

Clothe the naked

St. Martin of Tours, fourth from the left, has torn his robe in half and given it to the naked beggar in the foreground, recalling the saint's popular legend.

Visit the sick

St. Martin greets and comforts the beggar who is a cripple.

Refresh the thirsty

Samson (second from the left) drinks water from the jawbone of an ass.

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