Thursday, October 4, 2012

Julius II, Saints Peter and Andrew Fishing from Boat

This coin (Double Fiorini de Camera), comes from the papacy of Julius II between 1503 and 1513.

Historians continue to debate the legacy of this Pope. While he added to the buildings of the Vatican and encouraged Bramante to begin building the new Saint Peter's, and encouraged Rafael and Michelangelo as well, much of the money for these efforts was raised through the controversial sale of indulgences, a practice that would lead to Martin Luther's departure from the Church several decades later. At the time the coin was minted--the turn of the 16th century--the world was abuzz with news from Christopher Columbus and other Spanish explorers who were bringing new and treasures from the New World. Again, in the years after this coin was produced, gold and riches from the New World were used to build St. Peter's, a matter of continued discussion.

This coin stands out among other representations of St. Peter. As we noted previously, then 5 Lire coin of St. Peter fishing in the storm, minted in the 1930s, showed St. Peter himself praying to God to save him in the midst of the gale and rain. This coin from the era of Julius II shows a calm sea and the two men cooperating in sailing the small boat.

We might imagine questions that aren't revealed in the Gospels. What brought Peter and Andrew in the boat together? What were they talking about? And where were James and John, the two other Apostles who were known as fisherman. The coin encourages us to give this some thought.

Images courtesy of Q. David Bowers and Stacks, October 2009

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