|Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, circa 1295
Attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio
Vatican City, Saint Peter’s Basilica
|Saint Peter Blessing with Donor, circa 1505
Bartolomeo Montagna Venice, Accademia
Did Saint Peter have leprosy, or perhaps some other cause of injury to the ulnar nerve? It would seem so, according to Dr. Bennett Futterman, professor of anatomy in New York. In a recent book he points out that the traditional blessing of the Pope—ring and little finger bent inward as in the clawhand deformity produced by ulnar nerve damage—is also displayed in some of the earlier paintings of St. Peter by Medieval and Renaissance masters.
Futterman, B. Analysis of the Papal Benediction Sign, Clinical Anatomy, June 28, 2015.
GEORGE DUNEA, MD, Editor-in-Chief