Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index

  • Title: Tabitha Raised from the Dead by St. Peter
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    This mosaic in the Cappella Palatina in Sicily depicts a scene recounted in Acts 9. Tabitha, a woman from Joppe described as a disciple full of good works and almsgiving, falls ill and dies. Peter is brought to pray over her body. Tabitha revives and Peter presents her to the widows who had been mourning over her corpse. Peter's miracle-working here recalls Christ raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead and thus speaks to ideas of apostolic succession and the divine power in which all bishops (Peter being the first bishop and pope) shared.

    The Cappella Palatina (or Palatine Chapel) in the city of Palermo was built by Roger II, the Norman ruler of the kingdom of Sicily. The church is remarkable for its richness of decoration and use of motifs which drew from Islamic and Byzantine art. The mosaic representing Tabiha and Paul appears in the north aisle in a series of three scenes about Paul's healing miracles before he comes to Rome. Tronzo argues that the entire mosaic decoration of the chapel was conceived as an organized program at the start of construction. The scenes devoted to Saints Paul and Peter testify to their importance in the ongoing plan.

  • Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Rights: Public domain
  • Subject (See Also): Healers and Healing Miracles Mosaics Tabitha (Biblical Figure)
  • Geographic Area: Italy
  • Century: 12
  • Date: 3rd quater of the 12th century
  • Related Work: Peter debates Simon Magus before Nero, another mosaic in the Cappella Palatina series devoted to St Peter;
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  • Related Resources: Borsook, Eve. Messages in Mosaic: The Royal Programmes of Norman Sicily (1130–1187). Oxford University Press, 1990;
    Britt, Karen C. "Roger II of Sicily: Rex, Basileus, and Khalif? Identity, Politics, and Propaganda in the Cappella Palatina," Mediterranean Studies 16 (2007): 21-45;
    Houben, Hubert. Roger II of Sicily: A Ruler between East and West. Cambridge University Press, 2002;
    Tronzo, William. The Cultures of his Kingdom: Roger II and the Cappella Palatina in Palermo. Princeton University Press, 1997.