Antonio Vivarini
St. Peter Martyr Healing the Leg of a Young Man

Circa 1450s
Tempera and gold on wood. From an altarpiece.
Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, 37.163.4.

The story is told in Thomas of Lentino's Vita (Acta Sanctorum, April vol. 3, 693.) A young man told Peter in confession that he had kicked his mother. Peter remarked that it would be better to cut off one's leg than to do such a thing. Taking him literally, the young man went home and cut it off. Called to the house by the horrified parents, Peter came to the youth, knelt down, and prayed God for mercy. Then he applied holy oil to the leg and made the Sign of the Cross over it. The limb was restored.

In the painting we see Peter making the sign of the cross as he holds the severed shin to the thigh. The oil cruet is in the lower left of the image. Perhaps significantly, the instrument that the young man has used to cut off his leg is a broad-axe, which in some images is the weapon later used to assassinate Peter himself.

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