At a recent bible study with some lay missionaries, the lay sister leading the study indicated that the lambs in John 21:15 represent the apostles. She was unable to explain why we might think that to be the case, though. Is there a tradition or other source of support for the idea that the lambs in this verse represent the apostles?
I'm specifically interested in her claim, not the verse itself, and it the claim's relation to traditional Catholic interpretation of this passage. I do not care what you think the passage means or why. I do not care if the interpretation presented is reasonable. I do not care what the connotations of the word used in the Septuagint or Jerome's Vulgate are, except inasmuch as they represent Church teaching as regards the claim.
I do care what the Church Fathers, both Eastern and Western, said about the verse inasmuch as it relates to Peter's relationship with the apostles. I do care about Papal bulls, encyclicals, etc that assert the same claim with or without support. I care about documents giving biblical support for the Papacy which cite this verse or conspicuously do not cite the verse with support for that being conspicuous.
In sum, I am interested in knowing what support, if any, exists for this specific claim (i.e. that the Catholic Church teaches that in this passage the 'lambs' are the apostles) but not other claims about this verse in general.