According to the Book of Acts, shortly after St Peter’s first great sermon and the conversion of three thousand people, a miracle occurred that underlined Christ’s continued power to both relieve suffering and transform lives.
Pope Francis begins the story: “Peter and John go to pray at the Temple, the centre of Israel’s experience of faith, to which the early Christians were firmly attached. The first Christians used to pray in the Temple in Jerusalem. Luke records the time: it is the ninth hour, that is 3:00 PM, when the sacrifice is offered as a sign of the people’s communion with their God; and also the time at which Jesus died, offering himself “once for all” (Hebrews 9:12; 10:10). And at the Temple gate which is referred to as “Beautiful” — the Beautiful Gate — they see a beggar, a man paralysed from birth.”
Every day, this man was carried by his friends and laid at the gate of the Temple, to beg for money from those who entered. When he saw St Peter and St John on their way in, he pleaded with them for help. So St Peter said to him: “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” On the spot, the man rose and leaping for joy, entered the Temple praising God.
When the crowd saw the miracle, they were dumbfounded. St Peter, seeing their astonishment, said: “Why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.” These words, as well as the miracle itself, made such a great impression on the crowds that five thousand people were converted that same day.
Pope Francis reflected: “Peter invokes Jesus’ name, he commands the paralysed man to stand upright like the living; standing, and he touches this ill person, that is, he takes him by the hand and raises him up, a gesture in which Saint John Chrysostom sees “an image of Resurrection” (Homilies on the Acts of the Apostles, 8). And here appears a portrait of the Church that sees those in difficulty, that does not close her eyes, that knows how to look humanity in the face in order to create meaningful relationships, bridges of friendship and solidarity in place of barriers.”
This mural of St Peter healing the disabled man is found within the sanctuary of St Peter’s church, Bloxwich. It’s part of a series of murals that tell the story of his life and of his relationship with Christ. The original artist and date of their creation is unknown, but their simplicity – in terms of featuring only two people in each image – make them particularly striking. The wall paintings were restored by the Hardmans Studio in 1954.
See the full image:
Where to find this work of art
St Peter’s, Bloxwich
Read the relevant passage