The beauty in seemingly insignificant things is opened for us by the artist’s eye. Abraham Kuyper

Raphael: The Charge of Christ to Peter

ArtWay Visual Meditation 18 April 2021 

Raphael: Christ's Charge to Peter

Feed my Lambs

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

In the year 1515 Raphael made this design on paper for a large tapestry for Pope Leo X. It depicts Jesus’ commission to Peter: “Feed my lambs.” This scene took place when Jesus appeared to his disciples for the third time after his resurrection.

Raphael combines the biblical narrative in John 21 with Matthew 16:18-19, where – some time before his resurrection – Jesus gives the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter. Raphael does this because Peter later betrayed Jesus and his position as leader had become insecure. By combining the two scenes we not only see Peter’s honour restored, but also the confirmation of his charge and special position as the rock on which Jesus will build his church.

Peter kneels. He makes himself small, conscious of his guilt. The other disciples do not seem to agree with what is happening here. Raphael emphasizes their rivalry. One of them even makes a gesture of wanting to stop Jesus. Others point to themselves. But Jesus pontifically points to Peter.


Year B, 3rd Sunday of Easter. Readings: Micha 4:1-5; Psalm 98; 1 John 1:1-7; John 21:15-24.

Raphael: Christ's Charge to Peter (Matthew 16:18-19 & John 21:15-17), 1515, cartoon for a tapestry, gouache on paper on linen, 340 x 530 cm. Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Raphael made this design for a tapestry for Pope Leo X. The tapestry was woven in the workshop of Pieter van Aelst, a weaver living in Brussels. Presently it hangs in the Vatican Museums. The cartons, which are in the possession of the British Queen, are shown in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England.

Raphael or Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520) was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition. Like Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he was one of the great masters of that period. Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at 37 a large body of his work remains. Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican. His best-known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. He was extremely influential in his lifetime and after.



1. ARTWAY – THE VISIBILITY OF THE INVISIBLE, Renaissance Art and the Mediation of Belief by E. John Walford. “The discourse exemplified by Beck, Hartt, and others like them employs a methodology of stylistic analysis for which a detached objectivity has been tacitly claimed. It has, however, also been driven by humanist assumptions about Renaissance art and culture. Admired as the fountainhead from which modernity springs, Renaissance art is seen as manifesting the best of human endeavor when first liberated from the grip of medieval religion.” Read more

2. ​EARTH DAY TALK BY LYNN ALDRICH – 22 April, 7.00 p.m. PST, via Zoom: Lynn Aldrich ‘Earth Day: Wonder and Affection for our Rare Planet. A presentation of images and short video clips will accompany the artist’s description of over 30 years of art making – inspired by nature and the natural sciences, flora and fauna, life giving water, light and darkness, stars and planets. In an age of materialism we will ask if the dialog between doubt and faith can open up a path to spiritual insight in contemporary art. For more about the artist, see

3. COMPASSIONISM – Compassionism is the title of a new book with recent oil paintings by visual artist Hansa Versteeg. The album presents his seven large artworks since The Madonna (2017), accompanied by poetic contemplations written by cultural historian and art curator Anikó Tóth. The album is written in English and is introduced in the US through the website The limited edition is ready for order through € 30,- or $ 35,- (excl. shipping).

4. THE LOUVRE ONLINE – The Louvre Launches Online Collection Database and New Website. Two new digital tools have just gone live to bring the richness of the Louvre collections to the world’s fingertips:, a platform that for the first time ever brings together all of the museum’s artworks in one place; and a new and improved website,, that is more user-friendly, attractive and immersive. The collections database: is designed for both researchers and curious art lovers. The database already contains more than 482,000 entries, including works from the Louvre and the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens. The new website is designed to reach the widest possible audience. The Louvre’s new website is divided into three main sections: ‘Visit’, ‘Explore’, and ‘What’s on’. Focusing on works in the collections and the sumptuous settings they are displayed in, the site invites visitors to appreciate the former palace as they move from room to room. Available in French, English, Spanish and Chinese, images and video are given a place of pride.

5. ART+CHRISTIANITY CONVERSATION ONLINE – 21 April, 18 – 19 h, online, Exhibiting Faith in the Museum and Beyond. An evening with Ittai Weinryb, Neil MacGregor and Jennifer Sliwka. Art & Christianity is proud to present three world-leading experts on the joys and difficulties of introducing to the general public art that builds on a faith tradition. They will discuss what has become a major concern for teachers, lecturers and museum curators in many countries. How do you encourage a largely secular audience to step inside a work of art, in such a way that its religious meaning is felt and understood, and the artistic experience can become immersive? All three of our speakers have curated major exhibitions which have shown how the expression of faith through art can provoke, challenge, inspire and tell powerful stories. These exhibitions include Agents of Faith (Bard College, New York), Living with Gods (British Museum) and Devotion by Design (National Gallery, London).

6. ART ACTION UK 10th ANNIVERSARY – 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of Art Action UK. The 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and tsunami in Japan was the catalyst and ever since AAUK has been working with artists and curators in the UK and Japan. AAUK states: For our 10th anniversary, we do not have any cause to celebrate, but would like to reflect on what we have been learning. As we are discovering as we face the current Covid-19 pandemic, the issues we choose to hide away from public consciousness are the ones we need to give attention to. Our aim is to continue to support artists and curators who are able, through their practice, not so much to solve the problems but to be witnesses, to call attention and to reveal what is being purposefully overlooked or forgotten. We would like to share some of the recent activities and activists who are involved in AAUK. Hikaru Fujii: Artists and Disaster: Imagining In The 10th Year: ; Dr Jessica Holtaway: World-forming And Contemporary Art:

7. DAVID JONES – Paul Hills: David Jones: Artist in the Shadow of the Great War. This lecture from the 14th of March is now online:

For more exhibitions, lectures, conferences etc. inside and outside your country, click here

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.