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.

Raphael pictures eleven apostles here, but Judas is dead and will not be replaced by Matthias until after Christ's ascension into Heaven (Acts 1:16-25).

Read more about images of St. Peter.

Source: Wikimedia Commons