Scala/Art Resource, NY

Samuel consecrates the people of Israel in this 13th-century fresco from the ceiling of the Duomo (Cathedral) of Anagni, Italy. The medieval painter has interpreted the scene anachronistically as a Catholic ritual: Samuel uses a liturgical implement called an aspergillum to sprinkle holy water on the crowd.

Samuel is the second most successful prophet after Moses: He commonly cries out to the Lord and is answered. But Samuel often finds himself torn between his prophetic duties and his personal feelings. When the people demand a king and God directs Samuel to anoint Saul as ruler of the Israelites, Samuel does so reluctantly. Samuel quickly adjusts to the situation, however, and soon after Saul’s first successful military campaign, the prophet reconsecrates the kingship (1 Samuel 11:14–15)—the scene shown here. But God then directs him to cancel Saul’s kingship and find a replacement. Samuel prays all night long to change God’s mind, to no avail, and falls into a deep depression from which only a good pep talk by God can rouse him: “How long are you going to mourn over Saul, seeing that I have rejected him?” God asks. “Fill your horn with oil, and let us get ourselves [a new king]” (1 Samuel 17:1).