Sano di Pietro, Scenes from the Life of St. Peter Martyr

Circa 1440
Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome

#1. This is the one image for which I cannot account. Nothing that might explain it appears in the Golden Legend or in Thomas of Lentino's Vita. A young man with a sword approaches a woman in bed. The woman and her young attendant (or daughter?) make the palm-out gesture to the man. That gesture registered acceptance in early iconography, but by the 15th century it usually meant some kindof refusal.

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#2. This is almost surely the vision reported by Thomas of Lentino in which the Virgin Mary tells Peter that God has granted him the courage to continue to work against the heretics even at the risk of his life (Acta Sanctorum, April vol. 3, 714). The vision occurred while the saint was asleep, as is suggested by the bed in the background.

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#3. This episode is in Ryan (261-62) but not in Caxton's translation. Three women are spinning thread in the street outside Peter's church in Utrecht. They mockingly comment that the people thronging into the church are dupes of the greedy friars. Suddenly the thread on their distaffs starts to leak blood. In the image the woman in blue sees the blood dropping onto her fingers from the distaff. This scares the ladies straight. In the image, they head into the church and pray at the altar. (In the Legend, however, their response is to identify the blood as a miracle of St. Peter and report what happened to a friar, who then arranges a display of the bloody thread.)

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#4 Two cripples approach the same altar seen in #3. This could be a reference to the story of the two paralytics in Thomas of Lentino (Acta Sanctorum, April vol. 3, 714). The first of the paralytics was brought to the Milan church by his mother and cured there, but the second was simply cured at home when his mother prayed to St. Peter Martyr.

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Read more about St. Peter Martyr.

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