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The most accurate reconstruction of St. Anthony of Padua’s face

J-P Mauro - published on 06/13/18

Cícero Moraes excels at creating accurate 3D renderings of saints based on their skulls.

Today is the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of lost things and Doctor of the Church. To celebrate the occasion, take a look at this video, which reconstructs St. Anthony’s face based on of 3D scans of his skull. Thanks to Deacon Greg for bringing it to our attention.

In 2014, Brazilian 3D designer Cícero Moraes made this incredible video, which shows the process by which this 3D portrait was produced. It begins with St. Anthony’s skull and adds layer after layer of flesh and sinew until we are presented with the most accurate possible depiction of what St. Anthony would have looked like.

The process takes about a week for Moraes to complete a portrait. As for why he chose to reconstruct the faces of saints, he explained:

“Many times, people look at relics and don’t make the connection, but when there’s a face, the person stops to look at that image with more humanity. Many times, we also look at images that don’t match the real-life person.”

A scientific examination of St. Anthony’s remains, conducted in 1981, left experts with a much different impression of St. Anthony’s bust. They determined his head was elongated, so his face must have been straight and narrow, with a prominent chin, aquiline nose, large eyes and healthy, regular teeth.

Moraes’ reconstruction shows a much different portrait than the features hypothesized in 1981. His face is much broader, his chin less pronounced than they assumed, and his nose is not quite so hooked. Funny enough, this portrait is much closer to the fresco painted on a wall along the presbytery of the Basilica of St. Anthony.

Cícero continues to reconstruct the faces of saints, and has covered nearly a dozen, including St. Rose of Lima and this reconstruction of St. Valentine.

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