Peter, Saint

   Introduced by his brother Andrew to Christ, Peter became one of the Lord's disciples. The calling of the two brothers to the apostolate was depicted by Domenico del Ghirlandaio in the Sistine Chapel, Vatican, in 1482. Peter is mentioned in the Gospels more than any other apostle. He was present at the marriage at Cana when Christ effected his first miracle—the turning of water into wine. Christ called him "the rock" upon which his church would be built, a statement used by the papacy to assert the divine sanction of their office, the scene depicted by Pietro Perugino in the Sistine Chapel (Christ Giving the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter; 1482). He was present during the Agony in the Garden, as rendered by Giovanni Bellini (c. 1460; London, National Gallery). At Christ's arrest, he cut off Malchus' ear in anger, the scene presented by Giotto in his Betrayal of Christ by Judas in the Arena Chapel, Padua (1305). After Christ was arrested, three times Peter denied him but, after the Crucifixion, he was the first of the apostles to preach to the Gentiles, to effect conversions, and to perform miracles. He was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, but an angel helped him escape so he could continue preaching. Raphael included the Liberation of St. Peter in the decorations of the Stanza d'Eliodoro at the Vatican (1512-1514). Peter became the first bishop of Rome and was crucified there by Emperor Nero. His crucifixion is the subject of one of Caravaggio's paintings in the Cerasi Chapel, Rome (1600). His remains are kept in the crypt of the Basilica of St. Peter's, directly under the altar, to assert papal succession from Peter.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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