The Disputation of the Holy Sacrament
represents Christianity's victory over the multiple philosophical tendencies shown in the School of Athens
fresco painted on
the opposite wall. Unlike the philosophers of the School of Athens
, who are gathered together in a vaulted temple, the theologians of the Disputation make up the Church's architecture.
They form one body, united in an ethereal apse flanking the Trinity and the Eucharist, which when consecrated becomes the body of Christ.
In the painting, Raphael has created a scene spanning both heaven and earth. Above, Christ is surrounded by a halo, with the Blessed Virgin Mary, John the Baptist a his right and left. Other various
biblical figures such as Adam, Jacob and Moses are to the sides. God the Father sits above Jesus, depicted reigning over the golden light of heaven, and below Christ's feet is the Holy Spirit. On
opposite sides of the Holy Spirit are the four gospels, held by putto. Below, on the altar sits the monstrance.
The structure of the composition is characterized by extreme clarity and simplicity, which Raphael achieved through sketches, studies and drawings containing notable differences in pose. References to other artists are visible throughout the composition (the young Francesco Maria Della Rovere, for example, possesses a Leonardo-like physiognomy). But the layout, the gestures and the poses are original products of Raphael's research, which here reaches a degree of admirable balance and high expressive dignity.