Raphael, The Miraculous Draught of Fishes (1515/16)
Christ is in the midst of choosing Peter and Andrew, two fishermen, as his first apostles. The two men have been fishing unsuccessfully in the Sea of Galilee when Christ appears to them and tells them to let down their nets into deep water. In the boat next to Peter and Andrew, two other fishermen struggle to pull up a net with a huge catch. Peter (in blue) and Andrew (in green), their boat overflowing with fish, kneel reverently before Christ, recognising him as a holy man and promising to follow him.
This is a very important episode in the history of the Church. Peter, the humble fisherman, was Christ’s first apostle, and he was, along with Paul, one of the founders of the Roman church. The popes were considered successors of Peter in his office as Christ’s representative on earth. Leo was eager to emphasise the legitimacy of papal succession by including key episodes in the lives of Peter and Paul in the Sistine tapestries.