On the eve of the election of the archbishop of Myra in Lycia (Asia Minor) in the 4th century AD, it was revealed to one of the bishops that a young man called Nicholas had been divinely chosen. When Saint Nicholas presented himself at the cathedral the following day he was elected and immediately installed as archbishop. The story is told in 'The Golden Legend'. Veronese has shown the moment of Nicholas's recognition – or subsequent consecration – with an angel above bringing his bishop's stole, crozier and mitre. The saint humbly obeys. In 1087 Saint Nicholas's remains were translated to Bari.
This work was painted for the altar of Saint Nicholas in S. Benedetto Po, near Mantua, where it was probably installed in 1562.