An Angel Frees Peter from Prison

About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him.

The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists.The angel said to him, ‘Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.’ He did so. Then he said to him, ‘Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.’Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.’

As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. They said to her, ‘You are out of your mind!’ But she insisted that it was so. They said, ‘It is his angel.’ Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, ‘Tell this to James and to the believers.’ Then he left and went to another place.

When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. Acts 12:1-18

An Angel Frees Peter from Prison. 12th century. Palatine Chapel, Palermo. Bluffton
Filippino Lippi. St. Peter Being Freed from Prison, 1481-1482. Brancacci Chapel, Florence. Eckstein reviews 1, 2, 3, 4
Raphael, Liberation of Saint Peter, 1514.
Battistello (Giovanni Battista) Caracciolo, Liberation of St. Peter, 1615.
Giovanni Lanfranco, Liberation of Saint Peter, about 1620-21.
Benjamin Gerritsz Cuyp, The Deliverance of St. Peter, c. 1635.
Bernardo Strozzi, The Release of St. Peter, c. 1635.
Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588-1629, or follower of), The Liberation of St. Peter.
Aubin Vouet, May 1640.

David Teniers the Younger. Three versions of the Deliverance of Saint Peter, in Lyon, London and New York.

Antonio de Bellis, The Liberation of St. Peter, early 1640s.
Antonio de Pereda y Salgado, Saint Peter Freed by an Angel, 1643.
José (Jusepe) de Ribera, Liberation of Saint Peter, 1639.
José (Jusepe) de Ribera, The Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison, 1642.
Pieter de Hooch, St. Peter Liberated from Prison, 1650-55.
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Liberation of St. Peter. Between 1665 and 1667.
Pieter Neefs the Elder, Liberation of Saint Peter, 1637.
Pieter Neefs the Younger. Interior of a Prison with Sleeping Guards, St. Peter Beyond.
Pieter Neefs the Younger, Interior of a Prison with Saint Peter Fleeing with the Angel.
Sebastiano Ricci, The Liberation of St. Peter, 1722.
Benjamin West, St. Peter Released From Prison, 1800.
Washington Allston. The Angel Releasing St. Peter From Prison, 1814-1816. Study at the Huntington LibraryHead of Saint Peter at PAFA. Correspondence of the artist. Paley.

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