Disputation over the Sacraments

On the wall opposite the School of Athens, corresponding to Theology, is the fresco of the so-called Disputation of the Most Holy Sacrament, the title of which should more rightly be that of the Triumph of Religion.

At the sides of the Most Holy Trinity (with God the Father, Christ between the Virgin and St John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit in the centre) is the Triumphant Church, with patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament alternated with apostles and martyrs, seated in a hemicycle on the clouds. The personages are (from left to right for the viewer). St Peter, Adam, St John the Evangelist, David, St Laurence, Judas Maccabees, St Stephen, Moses, St James the elder, Abraham, St Paul.

On the ground, at the sides of the altar on which the Most Holy Sacrament dominates, is the Militant Church. On the marble thrones closest to the altar sit four Fathers of the Latin Church: St Gregory the Great (a portrait of Julius II), St Jerome, St Ambrose and St Augustine. Some other figures have the physiognomy of historical personages. We recognize the portrait of Sixtus IV (Julius II's uncle) in the pontiff furthest to the right, of Dante Alighieri behind him and of Beato Angelico in the monk on the extreme left.

text copied from here

The Church Militant
Top Center
Jesus Christ
The Holy Spirit
St. John the Baptist
Top Right (left to right)
St. Peter founding father of Christianity; holds the key to the Gates of Heaven
Adam the first man
St. John the Evangelist apostle, and author of the Gospel of John, which he holds
King David King of Israel, c.1000 B.C.; ancestor of Christ; wears a crown and holds a lute
St. Lawrence martyred in 258 A.D.
Top Left (right to left)
St. Paul founding father of Christianity
Abraham first of the forefathers of Judaism
St. James the Lesser apostle
Moses received the Ten Commandments, which he holds
St. Stephen the first Christian martyr
The Church Triumphant
Bottom Right (left to right)
Francesco Maria della Rovere 1490-1538; Duke of Urbino, nephew of Pope Julius II della Rovere
Pope St. Gregory the Great 590-604 (papacy)
St. Jerome 430-420 A.D.; translated the bible into Latin
Bottom Center
the Eucharist the body of Christ
Bottom Left (right to left)
Savonarola 1452-1498; radical Dominican friar who argued agains the corruption of the papacy
Dante 1263-1321; author of the Divine Comedy, (considered at the time to be a theologian)
Pope Sixtus IV 1471-1484 (papacy); uncle of Pope Julius II della Rovere
St. Bonaventure 1221-1274; helped to establish the Franciscan Order
Pope Innocent III 1198-1216 (papacy)
St. Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274; scholar, philospher, theologian
St. Augustine 354-430 A.D.; contributed greatly to the formulation of Christian doctrine

header image: School of Athens, detail
Raphael, 1510

Rebecca Daroff DiMattia • © 2006-2016
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