St. Corbinian - Patron Saint of Bears

While on pilgrimage to Rome, Corbinian's pack horse was attacked and killed by a bear. Undeterred, Corbinian demanded that the wild beast, then, should take up the luggage and carry it the rest of the way. Upon reaching Rome, Corbinian released the bear, which wandered back to its native forest.

In the first panel of this diptych, you see Corbinian and the bear, burdened with the Saint's luggage. The bear's left paw is drenched in horse blood, and the bottom corners of the panel depict horse skulls. Corbinian has his arms crossed across his chest, performing the sign-language motions for the word "bear."

The second panel depicts the Saint and his bear tending to a bear being tortured for its bile. The harvesting of gall from bears is a cruel and ongoing practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Bears are confined and their gall bladders drained; they are made to suffer for extended periods of time before they finally (mercifully) die. Claims as to the medical benefits of bear gall are dubious.

As are claims about the medical hazards of, say, childhood vaccinations.