The Walters Art Gallery

The Breath of St. John Evangelist, exhaled by the “sleeping” saint in his tomb, was collected in this sixth- or seventh-century terra-cotta flask. According to legend, John’s breath (called “manna”) had miraculous powers: “If there is a storm at sea and some of the manna is thrown in the sea three times in the name of the Holy Trinity and Our Lady Saint Mary and the Blessed Saint John the Evangelist, at once the storm ceases.”

Discovered near Ephesus, the flask was probably carried by a Byzantine pilgrim as protection against the dangers of travel in the ancient world.

The figure at the door may represent the suppliant.