Letter: Missing monk

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Sir: Botticelli was evidently intrigued by a conversation which he overheard, circa 1480, about an absconding monk. In his fresco of St Augustine in the convent church of Ognissanti, Florence, he represents a page of geometric calculations and, amidst illegible scribble, these words appear: "Dove Fra Martino e scappato e dov'e andato e fuor della porta al prato." - "Where's brother Martin? He's cleared off. And where's he gone? Out of the meadow gate."

In 15th-century Florence the disappearance of a priest was a matter of interest, just as it is today.