Initial S with St. Peter Liberated from Prison

Italian, first half of the 14th century
Tempera, gold, and ink on parchment
Metropolitan Museum of Art, gift of Dr. Bashford Dean, 23.21.3

In this image we do not see Peter's conventional baldness, though his beard has the same square shape as most other representations.

The lower register follows Acts 12:6-11: In Herod's prison, an angel leads the captive Peter right past two guards and out the iron gate leading to the city of Jerusalem. In Acts the angel begins by telling Peter to take up his cloak, belt, and sandals, but in the image here the saint is barefoot and there is no sign of his belt.

The upper register continues the story in Acts 12:12-17: Peter immediately goes to the house of Mary the mother of John Mark to tell the disciples what has happened. The person who answers Peter's knock at the door is a maid named Rhoda.

The person with arms extended in welcome could be Rhoda, or it could be John Mark, whom Peter calls his (spiritual) "son" in I Peter 5:13. If it is John Mark, the absence of a beard could be a sign of his status as Peter's "junior," and his halo would be justified by the tradition that he was the author of the Gospel of Mark.

Read more about images of St. Peter.
Read more about images of St. Mark.

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