With light, delicate strokes, the artist created a scene of almost geometric simplification. Using spare contours and pale washes, he created the long cloak that covers the body of the monk; his small, round head; and the straight lines of the cross. Faint shadows extend out from either foot, as well as from the small winged putto holding an empty escutcheon in the left corner, giving both figures an impression of depth.
Scholars guess that the monk may be San Diego de Henares de Alcalà, a Spanish lay brother of the Capuchin order who died in 1463. San Diego was sent with missionaries to the Canary Islands and was canonized by Philip II of Spain. The king prayed to him when his son lay dying and, out of gratitude for the boy's recovery, asked the pope to make him a saint. Artists often drew San Diego carrying a cross or with the infant Jesus Christ in his arms.