Jesus Heals Peter's Mother-in-Law

12th-13th century
Cathedral of the Assumption, Monreale, Sicily

Seeing that Peter's mother is suffering from a fever, Jesus reaches out to touch her hand. His own hand is formed into the gesture that expresses the name "Jesus." The scroll in his left hand symbolizes his authority. St. Peter stands behind him, followed by the other apostles. The woman looking out from the curtain could be Peter's wife.

The episode is recounted in Matthew 8:14-15, Mark 1:29-31, and Luke 4:38-40. The mosaic is closest to Matthew, who says Jesus "touched" the woman's hand. In Mark he "grasped" it, and in Luke he simply "rebuked the fever." Mark says the house was the home of Peter and Andrew, who both interceded with Jesus for the woman, but in the mosaic none of the disciples shown has the wild hair that is a nearly universal attribute of Andrew.

The inscription above says, IESUS LIBERAT SOCRUM SIMONIS MAGNIS FEBRIBUS, "Jesus frees Simon's mother-in-law from a great fever."

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Photographed at the cathedral by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.