The miracle of the lame man
The lame man
In the central part of the tapestry, in the middle of a crowd beside a monumental Solomonic column, we see a lame man with twisted feet sitting on the ground. According to the New Testament, this man was crippled from birth and was placed every day in the Temple, beside the gate known as the Beautiful, and made to beg.
A miracle as alms
The apostles Saint Peter, with a beard, and the young Saint John are depicted in the left-hand part of the tapestry. Both apostles were coming to the temple at the ninth hour, and the lame man sought alms from them. Saint Peter replied to him: “Silver and gold, I have none, but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3, 7). Peter took the right hand of the lame man, who stood up and entered with them into the Temple, praising God. The crowd of people who were coming to the Temple and who saw the miracle were astonished.
The cartoon which Raphael designed for this tapestry is kept in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. The cartoon depicts a larger scene than the tapestry, locating the miracle itself in a temple with three naves separated by Solomonic columns. In the left-hand part we see another lame man and, behind him, a woman with a baby in her arms. The right-hand aisle has also been cut from the tapestry; it shows other women and a naked boy carrying two dead birds. The presence of women is significant, since the gate known as the Beautiful was where people of both sexes entered to make offerings for the maintenance of the temple. In Raphael’s cartoon – in contrast to the tapestry – the scene of the lame man occupies the centre of a far more balanced composition.
The border, as in the rest of the tapestries in the series, is made up of ribbons intertwined around a vine tendril and bunches of grapes, along with rosettes in the centre, and alludes to Christian imagery of the parable of the vine and the branches.
Series Acts of the Apostles
Third tapestry in the series
Model Cartoon by Rafael Sanzio, 1519
Manufacture Jan Raes II, Brussels, c. 1605-1629
Fabric Silk and wool
Size 524 x 400 cm
Location Royal Palace of Madrid
Origin Collection of Philip III
On display Hall of Columns