Monday, April 29, 2024

An Altarpiece of St Peter Martyr

For the feast of St Peter Martyr, here are some pictures of a particularly elaborate altarpiece dedicated to him. This was originally painted for the church of St Dominic in the Italian city of Modena by the workshop of the brothers Agnolo and Bartolomeo degli Erri, the third generation of painters in their family. They also did altarpieces for the same church dedicated to Ss Dominic, Thomas Aquinas and Vincent Ferrer. As has happened to so many works of its kind, this one was later removed from its original frame; it is now in the museum of the Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma. (All images from this page of Wikimedia Commons, by Sailko, CC BY-SA 4.0; unfortunately, close up photos are available for only some of the panals.  

The scenes are as follows:

top left: St Peter as a child, disputing with his uncle and other Cathar heretics; his vesting as a Dominican; praying before an image of the Virgin Mary.
top center: portrait of the Saint
top right: his corporal penances and fasting; at Cesena, he heals a young man who had cut off his own foot to punish himself for striking his mother; the healing of a nun.
middle left: he puts the devil to flight by showing it a consecrated Host; the raising of a dead child; the healing of a dying man
middle center: St Peter praying before a Cross
middle right: he heals a baby that had fallen into a fire; while preaching, he tames a crazed horse, and restores speech to a mute boy; at Milan, he heals a paralyzed woman.
lower left: Pope Innocent IV makes him an inquisitor against the Cathar heresy; he receives a message from the Pope, and causes a very hot sun to dim while he was preaching outdoors, so the faithful would not be discomforted while listening to him; he departs for his mission. 
lower right: his martyrdom; his funeral cortege; miracles at his tomb.
The center middle panel of St Peter and members of the faithful praying before a Crucifix.
First panel, center right: St Peter heals a small child that had fallen into a fire.
Second panel, middle right: he heals a mute boy, and stops a crazed horse.
Third panel, middle right: at Milan, he heals a paralyzed woman. In the background is the church of St Eustorgius in Milan, where his relics have reposed since shortly after his martyrdom in 1252.

First panel, lower right: St Peter is ambushed and assassinated.
Second panel, lower right: his body is taken to Milan for his funeral.
Third panel, lower right: miracles at his tomb.

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