Hermenegild Peiker (restorer), St. Peter Exorcises a Young Woman

St. Peter's Church, Munich, Germany

Black birds representing demons fly from a young woman's mouth. The source may be an episode in a vita in the Acta Sanctorum (June vol. 5, 426): A young woman on the island of "Antaradus" (modern Tartus, a city on the Syrian coast with an island just offshore) had been possessed by a demon and rendered so violent that she had to be chained in a prison. But simply because St. Peter was in the city the demon fled, the chains miraculously fell off the woman, and the prison gates opened themselves. The parents then brought her to Peter and urged him, on account of this miracle, to stay longer with them on the island rather than moving on; that request may explain the mother's gesture in the fresco.

I say only that this episode may be the source of the fresco, because there is nothing in it about birds, and the demon (singular) leaves simply upon knowing that Peter is around (ex praesentia tua daemon quidem fugit, say the parents), not because of an actual exorcism. But I know of no other acount of Peter exorcising an individual woman, and it seems telling that this young woman is accompanied by an older couple who would most likely be her parents.

The painting is a copy of the original, painted by Johann Baptist Zimmermann in 1753-56, which was destroyed in World War II.

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