Raphael, Christ's Charge to St. Peter
Tempera on paper, mounted on canvas, 135⅞ x 210⅔ in. (345 x 535 cm.)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
In John 1:40-42 the resurrected Christ asks St. Peter "do you love me?" three times. Upon the third affirmative reply, he says, "feed my sheep." Roman Catholics take this as a confirmation of the supremacy of Peter and thus of the popes, his successors. To emphasize that belief, Peter holds the "keys to the kingdom" that Christ had metaphorically given him in Matthew 16:19.
Following traditional iconography, Raphael's Peter has a short, square beard; but he has a full head of hair, which is unusual in the portraits.
In all, eleven apostles are pictured here. Judas will not be replaced by Matthias until Acts 1:16-25.
Read more about St. Peter.