E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
San Benito (The).
The vest of penitence. It was a coarse yellow tunic worn by persons condemned to death by the Inquisition on their way to the auto da fé it was painted over with flames, demons, etc. In the case of those who expressed repentance for their errors, the flames were directed downwards. Penitents who had been taken before the Inquisition had to wear this badge for a stated period. Those worn by Jews, sorcerers, and renegades bore a St. Andrews cross in red on back and front.