The Repentance of St. Peter
In this painting Peter has swum ashore. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him, and Peter answers three times that he does. The three answers contrast with Peter's three denials at the Crucifixion.
The disciples are collecting fish for breakfast, and Jesus has prepared fish and bread for them – the food representing a type, or prefiguration, of the Eucharist. In the background you can see young John counting fish -- one hundred-fifty-three of them, he tells us. Following a long-standing tradition some of the characters are dressed in contemporary clothes, something you will see in many paintings since the Renaissance. I have also given the fishermen a modern john boat.
The painting is about repentance and rocks. Jesus said there is a rock (Himself) not hewn by human hands; and whoever falls on this rock will be broken but whoever this Rock falls upon will be ground to powder. So in this painting Peter, the rock, is falling on Christ the Rock and is broken in sorrow. Jesus is standing on a rock which is atop rubble that has been ground nearly to powder. In the distance above Peter’s head you can see an angel praising God. Jesus has said that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over a hundred "just" men who need no repentance. Below the angel’s feet is a rainbow — a sign that God would never again destroy the world by water because of sin, but rather water would be instrumental in its salvation.
Installed at St. Peter's Catholic Parish in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photos by Kay-Marie Slaughter)