The story of how St Peter denied being a follower of Christ is found in all four gospels (cf Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:66-72; John 18:15-27). After Christ had been arrested and taken to the high priest’s palace, St Peter followed along and lingered in the courtyard, warming himself by a fire that had been lit.
Several people in the palace recognised him as one of the disciples and questioned him about it, leading him to deny knowing Christ three times. After the third time, a cock crew, as Christ had predicted during the Last Supper (Luke 22:31-34). St Peter then recalled this conversation, when he had promised Christ that he would never deny him. He then left the courtyard and wept uncontrollably (Luke 22:62).
After his resurrection, Christ asked St Peter to make amends for his three-fold denial by affirming his love for him three times (John 21:15-17). Pope St Leo the Great later observed that God allowed St Peter to fall away from Christ as a lesson to the whole Church. Even the first pope, he noted, was weak and had to repent of his sins.
The servant girl pictured in this mural was the first to accuse St Peter of knowing Christ. The scene is one of a series of paintings found within the sanctuary of St Peter’s, in Bloxwich. All of them picture episodes from the life of the saint, including Christ’s prediction that St Peter would deny him before the cock crew (see below). The artist and date of composition are unknown.
See the full image:
And the corresponding image of Christ predicting the denial:
Where to find this work of art
St Peter’s, Bloxwich
Read the relevant passage