|First in the line of Apostolic succession |
|Papacy Ended: 67
Peter (Saint Peter in Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions), Prince of the Apostles, born Simon (Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1), in Bethsaida (John 1:42, 44), a town on Lake Genesareth, Galilee, (Now Israel). Son of Jonah, he became a disciple of Jesus c. 30 AD. St. Peter and his brother, Andrew were fishermen.
Peter demonstrated his faith in Matthew 14:28-29; 16:13-19; Luke 22:31-32. Peter by faith was able to walk on waters. He recognized that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus himself prayed for him, that Peter's faith never fail. When Jesus was seized for the Passion, Peter drew his sword amid armed Roman soldiers and struck one in order to protect Jesus. By tradition, when Peter was crucified he insisted on greater suffering by being crucified upside-down, in respect for Jesus's Crucifixion and a stunning example of chivalry.
“Come with me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus calling him and his brother Andrew to be disciples. “You are Peter, the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall never conquer it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven .” (Matthew 16:18-20).
On many occasions, St. Peter speaks for the other Apostles “We here have left everything to become your followers”, (Matthew 19:27). After the resurrection of Christ he became the leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem. Christ gave Peter a special command to “feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17).
St. Peter taught in Jerusalem, Palestine and Samaria. He preached also in Lydda, Joppa and Caesarea; afterward, he went to Asia Minor and lived in Corinth. For the last part of his life St. Peter stayed in Rome.
St. Peter was crucified in Rome (67 A.D.) but, out of his respect for Jesus, St. Peter requested and obtained an upside-down crucifixion, with his agonizingly pointed downwards at Rome (67 A.D.). The brutal, anti-Christian Nero was the Roman Emperor at the time. This was recorded by the historian Origen.
Peter's remains were placed at a magnificent basilica erected at the foot of the Vatican Hill.
Peter was one of Jesus' twelve disciples.
Peter was son of Jona (or Jonah), and his mother's name was never mentioned in the bible. His brother was Andrew, another of Jesus' twelve disciples. Peter's name used to be Simon (or Simeon) but one day Andrew brought Peter to Jesus  and there Jesus appointed him his new name. "Thou shalt be called Cephas," an Aramaic surname whose Greek synonym is Petros, or Peter, meaning "a rock" or "stone." 
Simon Peter was married as can be inferred from Luke 4:38, when Peter's mother-in-law is taken with a great fever, and Jesus heals her. As with most of the Disciples, very little is known about his personal life as they wanted the focus to be on Jesus and his ministry.
Peter lived in Bethsaida, along the western coast of the Sea of Galilee. Philip, another of Jesus' twelve, also lived there. Brought up here, Peter was trained to be a fisher. He and Andrew were also taught throughout their lives the upcoming prophecy of the Messiah and studied the scriptures. Later in his life, he lived in Capernaum, where his mother and Andrew lived with him. Peter was also married, and his wife most likely accompanied him on his travels.
Saint Jerome relates: "Simon Peter the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion — the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia — pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to overthrow Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. He wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him. Then too the Gospel according to Mark, who was his disciple and interpreter, is ascribed to him. On the other hand, the books, of which one is entitled his Acts, another his Gospel, a third his Preaching, a fourth his Revelation, a fifth his Judgment are rejected as apocryphal."Buried at Rome in the Vatican near the triumphal way he is venerated by the whole world."  The second year of Claudius is 42 A.D. and the 14th year of Nero is 67 A.D. St. Peter's 25 year reign as Bishop of Rome was therefore from 42-67 A.D.
St. Peter there died in Rome around 67 A.D. as a martyr for Christ. Our Lord Jesus had predicted the violent death Peter would die and just as the Lord had said, this happened to St. Peter several years later. His crucifixion in Rome is the Lord's Prophesy coming true. At the crucifixion, St.Peter asked to be crucified upside down, believing he didn't deserve to die the same way Christ his Savior had died. He is identified as the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Successor: Saint Linus.
Ecclesiastical HistoryEusebius mentions Saint Peter in his work, Ecclesiastical History, the first historical account of the Christian Church to the time of Constantine:
Book II, Chapter XIV The Preaching of Peter in the City of Rome
SUCH was the wickedness of which that mialignant power, the enemy of all good, and the waylayer of human salvation, constituted Simon the father and author at this time, as if with a view to make him a great and powerful antagonist to the divine purposes of our Saviour and his apostles. Nevertheless, that divine and celestial grace which co-operates with its servants, by their appearance and presence, soon extinguished the flame that had been kindled by the wicked one, humbling and casting down through them “ every height that elevated itself against the knowledge of God.” Wherefore, neither the conspiriacy of Simon, nor that of any other one then existing, was able to effect any thing against those apostolic times. For the declaration of the truth prevailed and overpowered all, and the divine word itself, now shining from heaven upon men, and flourishing upon earth, and dwelling with his apostles, prevailed and overpowered every opposition. Immediately the aforesaid imposter being smitten, as to his mental eye, by a divine and supernatural brilliancy, as when, on a former occasion in Judea, he was convicted of his wickedness by the apostle Peter, he undertook a great journey from the east across the sea, and fled to the west, thinking that this was the only way for him to live according to his mind. Entering the city of Rome, by the co-operation of that malignant spirit which had fixed its seat there, his attempts were soon so far successful, as to be honoured as a god, with the erection of a statue by the inhabitants of that city. This, however, did not continue long ; for immediately under the reign of Claudius, by the benign and gracious providence of God, Peter, that powerful and great apostle, who by his courage took the lead of all the rest, was conducted to Rome against this pest of mankind. He, like a noble commander of God, fortified with divine armour, bore the precious merchandise of the revealed light from the east to those in the west, announcing the light itself, and salutary doctrine of the soul, the proclamation of the kingdom of God.
Chapter XV The Gospel According to Mark
THE divine word having thus been extablished among the Romans, the power of Simon was soon extinguished and destroyed together with the man.1  So greatly, however, did the splendor of piety enlighten the minds of Peter’s hearers, that it was not sufficient to hear but one, nor to receive the unwritten doctrines of the gospel of God, but they persevered in every variety of entreaties, to solicit Mark as the companion of Peter, and whose Gospel we have, that he should leave them a monument of the doctrine thus orally communicated, in writing. Nor did they cease their solicitations until they had prevailed with the man, and thus become the means of that history which is called the Gospel according to Mark. They say also, that the apostle (Peter,) having ascertained what was done by the revelation of the Spirit, was delighted with the zealous ardour expressed by these men, and that the history obtained his authority for the purpose of being read in the Churches. This account is given by Clement, in the sixth book of his Institutions, whose testimony is corroborated also by that of Papias, bishop of Hierapolis. But Peter makes mention of Mark in the first epistle, which he is also said to have composed at the same city of Rome, and that he shows this he shows this fact, by calling the city by an unusual trope, Babylon ; thus, “ The church at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you, as also my son Marcus.” I Pet. v. 13.
Book II, Chapter XXV The Persecution Under Nero, in Which Paul and Peter Were Honoured with Martyrdom in the Cause of Religion at Rome
BUT Nero now having the government firmly established under him, and henceforth plunging into nefarious projects, began to take up arms against that very religion which acknowledges the one Supreme God. To describe, indeed, the greatness of this man's wickedness, is not compatible with our present object ; and as there are many that have given his history in the most accurate narratives, every one may, at his pleasure, in these contemplate the grossness of his extraordinary madness. Under the influence of this, he did not proceed to destroy so many thousands with any calculation, but with such indiscriminate murder as not even to refrain from his nearest and dearest friends. His own mother and wife, with many others that were his near relatives, he killed like strangers and enemies, with various kinds of deaths. And, indeed, in addition to all his other crimes, this too was yet wanting to complete the catalogue, that he was the first of the emperors that displayed himself an enemy of piety towards the Deity. This fact is recorded by the Roman Tertullian, in language like the following : “ Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when, after subduing all the East, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome. Such is the man of whom we boast, as the leader in our punishment. For he that knows who he was, may know also that there could scarcely be any thing but what was great and good, condemned by Nero.” Thus Nero publicly announcing himself as the chief enemy of God, was led on in his fury to slaughter the apostles. Paul is therefore said to have been beheaded at Rome, and Peter to have been crucified under him. And this account is confirmed by the fact, that the names of Peter and Paul still remain in the cemeteries of that city even to this day. But likewise, a certain 1  ecclesiastical writer, Caius by name, who was born about the time of Zephrynus, bishop of Rome, disputing with Proclus, the leader of the Phrygian sect, gives the following statement respecting the places where the earthly tabernacles of the aforesaid apostles are laid. “ But I can show,” says he, “ the trophies of the apostles. For if you will go to the 2  Vatican, or to the Ostian road, you will find the trophies of those who have laid the foundation of this church. And that both suffered martyrdom about the same time, Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, bears the following testimony, in his discourse addressed to the Romans. ‘ Thus, likewise, you, by means of this admonition, have mingled the flourishing seed that had been planted by Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of these having planted us at Corinth, likewise instructed us ; and having in like manner taught in Italy, they suffered martyrdom 3  about the same time.’ ” This testimony I have superadded, in order that the truth of the history might be still more confirmed.
Book III, Chapter III Of the Epistles of the Apostles (pp. 71-72)
AS to the writings of Peter, one of his epistles called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. For this was anciently used by the ancient fathers in their writings, as an undoubted work of the apostle. But in that which is called the second,1  we have not indeed understood it to be embodied with the sacred books, ενδιαθηκον, yet as it appeared useful to many, it was studiously read with the other Scriptures. As to that works, however, which is ascribed to him, called “ The Acts,” and the “ Gospel according to Peter,” and that called “ The Preaching and the Revelations of Peter,” we know nothing of their being handed down as Catholic 1  writings. Since neither among the ancient nor the ecclesiastical writers of our own day, has there been one that has appealed to testimony taken from them. But as I proceed in my history, I shall carefully show with the successions of the apostles, what ecclesiastical writers in their times respectively made use of any of the disputed writings, and also what respecting those that were not of this description. These, however, are those that are called Peter’s epistles, of which I have understood only one epistle to be genuine, and admitted by the ancient fathers. ...
Book V, Chapter VIII The Statement of Irenæus Respecting the Sacred Scriptures
SINCE we have promised in the outset of our work to give extracts occasionally when we refer to the declarations of the ancient presbyters and historians of the church, in which they have transmitted the traditions that have descended to us respecting the sacred Scriptures, among these Irenæus was one. Let us now give his words, and first of all what he has said of the holy Gospels : “ Matthew, indeed,” says he, “ produced his Gospel written among the Hebrews in their own dialect, whilst Peter and Paul proclaimed the gospel and founded the church at Rome. After the departure of these, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. And Luke, the companion of Paul, committed to writing the Gospel preached by him, i. e. Paul. Afterwards John, the disciple of our Lord, the same that lay upon his bosom, also published the Gospel, whilst he was yet at Ephesus in Asia.” This is what this author says in the third book of the work already mentioned ; and in the fifth, he thus descants on the Revelation of John and the calculation of antichrist's name : “ As matters are thus, and the number is thus found in all the genuine and ancient copies, and as they who saw John attest, reason itself shows that the number of the name of the beast is indicated by the Greek letters which it contains.” And a little further on he speaks of the same John : “ We, therefore,” says he, “ do not venture to affirm any thing with certainty respecting the name of antichrist. For were it necessary that his name should be clearly announced to the present age, it would have been declared by him who saw the Revelation. He also mentions the First Epistle of John, extracting many testimonies from it : he alos mentions the First Epistle of Peter. And he not only knew, but also admitted the book called Pastor, in these words : “ Well is it said in that work which declares, ‘ First of all believe that there is one God, who created and arranged all things,’ ” &c. ...
Book VI, Chapter XII Serapion, and the Writings Ascribed to Him (p. 217)
SERAPION, however, it is probable, has left many monuments of his application to learning, which are preserved by others ; but only those that are addressed to Domninus have come down to us. He was one of those that had fallen away from the faith, at the time of the persecution, and relapsed into Jewish superstition. Those epistles, also, that he addressed to Pontus and Caricus, ecclesiastical writers, and many others to others. There is also another work composed by him on the Gospel of Peter, as it is called ; which, indeed, he wrote to refute the false assertions which it contains, and account of some in the church of Rhosse,2  who by this work were led astray to perverted doctrines. From which it may be well to add some brief extracts, by which it may be seen what he thought of the book :—
“ We, brethren,” say he, “ receive Peter and the other apostles as Christ himself. But those writings which falsely go under their name, as we are well acquainted with them, we reject, and know also, that we have not received such handed down to us. But when I came to you, I had supposed that all held to the true faith ; and as I had not perused the Gospel presented by them under the name of Peter, I said, ‘ If this be the only thing that creates difference among you, let it be read ;’ but now having understood, from what was said to me, that their minds were enveloped in some heresy, I will make haste to come to you again ; therefore, brethren, expect me soon. But as we perceived what was the heresy of Marcianus, we plainly saw that he ignorantly contradicted himself, which things you may learn from what has been written to you. For we have borrowed this Gospel from others, who have studied it, that is, from the successors of those who led the way before him, whom we call Docetæ (for most opinions have sprung from this sect). and in this we have discovered many things, superadded to the sound faith of our Saviour ; some, also, attached that are foreign to it, and which we have also subjoined for your sake.” Thus far the works of Serapion.
Book VI, Chapter XXV His Review of the Collective Scriptures
... These, then, are the books that [Origen] mentions in the book mentioned above. But in the first book of his Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew, following the Ecclesiastical Canon, he attests that he knows of only four Gospels, as follows : “ As I have understood from tradition, respecting the four Gospels, which are the only undisputed ones in the whole church of God throughout the world. The first is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who having published it for the Jewish converts, wrote it in the Hebrew. The second is according to Mark, who composed it as Peter explained it to him, whom he acknowledges as his son in his general Epistle, saying, ‘ The elect church in Babylon salutes you. as also Mark my son.’ And the third, according to Luke, the Gospel commended by Paul, which was written for the converts from the Gentiles ; and last of all the Gospel according to John.” And in the fifth book of his Commentaries on John, the same author writes as follows : “ But he being well fitted to be a minister of the New Testament, Paul, I mean a minister not of the letter, but of the spirit ; who, after spreading the gospel from Jerusalem and the country around as far as Illyricum, did not even write to all the churches to which he preached, but even to those to whom he wrote he only sent a few lines. But Peter, upon whom the church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, has left one epistle undisputed. Suppose, also, the second was left by him, for on this there is some doubt. What shall we say of him who reclined upon the breast of Jesus, I mean John ? who has left one Gospel, in which he confesses that he could wwrite so many that the whole world could not contain them. He also wrote the Apocalypse, commanded as he was, to conceal, and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. He has also left an epistle consisting of very few lines ; suppose, also, that a second and third is from him, for not all agree that they are genuine, but both together do not contain a hundred lines.” ...—quotations verbatim of Book II, Chapter XIV The Preaching of Peter in the City of Rome (p. 51), Chapter XV The Gospel According to Mark (pp. 52-53), Book II, Chapter XXV The Persecution Under Nero, in Which Paul and Peter Were Honoured with Martyrdom in the Cause of Religion at Rome (pp. 67-69), Book III, Chapter III Of the Epistles of the Apostles (pp. 71-72), Book V, Chapter VIII The Statement of Irenæus Respecting the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 175-176), Book VI, Chapter XXV His Review of the Collective Scriptures (p. 231), The Ecclesiastical History Of Eusebius Pamphilus: Bishop Of Caesarea, In Palestine, Translated from the Greek, by The Rev. C. F. Crusé, Assistant Professor in the University of Pennsylvania. With notes from the Edition of Valesius. Published London: George Bell and Sons, York Street. Covent Garden 1874. London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, Stamford Street and Charing Cross. —In the public domain (boldface highlight added).
In art and literature
In art, St Peter is usually depicted as a white-haired, bearded man in a blue robe, often holding a key or keys, which refer to Matthew 16:19. Following on from this, many paintings and literary accounts of Heaven show him stationed at the gate. There are traditionally two keys, one gold and one silver, representing the two conditions necessary for salvation: the silver key represents repentance, which comes from the person concerned; and the gold key represents forgiveness, which comes from God.
In the Divine Comedy, St Peter appears twice, playing two different symbolic roles. He first appears at the gate of Purgatory, in his traditional capacity as gatekeeper of Heaven (since all who enter Purgatory will eventually make it to Paradise). His second appearance is in the eighth sphere of the Paradiso, where he examines Dante on the virtue of faith.
- Undertaken by him despite his likely inability to swim. Traditionally fishermen did not learn how to swim.
- Matt 16:17 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%2016:17;&version=31;
- John 1:41 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%201:41;&version=31;
- De Viris Illustribus, #1, on Saint Peter. https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 1 Book II, Chapter XV The Gospel According to Mark (p. 52)—
" 1 From these words of Eusebius it is concluded that the death of Simon Magus happened at Rome in the time of Claudius, for Eusebius writeth that Peter came to Rome in Claudius's reign, and that presently after, Simon's magicical arts were by his coming destroyed together with the author. Though there be others that say Simon was destroyed in Nero's reign. Vales. "
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 1 Book II, Chapter XXV The Persecution Under Nero, in Which Paul and Peter Were Honoured with Martyrdom in the Cause of Religion at Rome (pp. 68-69)—
" 1 The term “ ecclesiastical ” is used in three senses. Sometimes it is taken for a Christian, and opposed to a heathen, or Gentile. So Jerome in his preface to his book, De Scriptor. Ecclesias. Sometimes it denotes a catholic, and is opposed to a heretic. So Jerome also, in his preface to St. Matthew, and on chap. xiii. Ezekiel. So Origen also, tome 6, Explanat. on St. John's Gospel. Lastly, sometimes it signifies a clergyman, and is opposed to a laic, or secular person. So Jerome again, in his Epistle to Pammachius, and in his 46th Epist. to Rusticus. I would rather take this word in the second sense here, both because that signification of this word is more frequent, and also in regard Eusebius, speaking here of Gaius's book against Proclus, fives each of them his proper epithet ; he styles Caius “ an ecclesiastical man,” and Proclus he calls “ the defender of the opinion of the Cataphrygians,” i. e. a heretic. The sect of the Cataphrygians was divided into two parts ; the ringleader of the one party was Proclus ; of the other, Æschynes. So Tertullian, in his book De Prescript. Hæret. Vales.
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 2 Book II, Chapter XXV The Persecution Under Nero, in Which Paul and Peter Were Honoured with Martyrdom in the Cause of Religion at Rome (p. 69)—
" 2 Peter was buried in the Vatican ; Paul in the Via Ostia. Vales.
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 3 Book II, Chapter XXV The Persecution Under Nero, in Which Paul and Peter Were Honoured with Martyrdom in the Cause of Religion at Rome (p. 69)—
" 3 Dionysius does not expressly say that Peter and Paul suffered on the same day, but only at the same time; which may be so understood, as that there might be an interval of many days between their sufferings. Prudentius [περί στεφάνων) says they were both martyred on the same day, but not in the same year ; and that there was a year's space between their deaths. With Prudentius agrees Augustine, in his 28th Sermon, De Sancta ; and Arator, lib. ii. Hist. Apost. But Simon Metaphrastes takes these words of Dionysius wo, as if he said that Peter and Paul were martyred on the same day together. His words are to be found in Comment. de Peregrinat. Pauli ac Petri, apud Surium, tome iii. Vales.
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 1 Book III, Chapter III Of the Epistles of the Apostles (p. 71)
" 1 That this Second Epistle of St. Peter was not at first received in the church of Christ with so universal agreement and consent as the former, may be concluded from this passage in Eusebius. But notwithstanding, there are great and sure evidences of this Epistle being written by the acknowledged author of it ; as, 1. The title of Simon Peter, with the addition of “ an Apostle of Jesus Christ,” chap. i. I. 2. There is a whole passage in this Epistle (chap. i. 16, 17) which doth signally belong to Peter, that of having been on the holy mount with Christ, and hearing those words, “ This is my beloved Son,” &c., which certainly belongs to the transfiguration, Matt. xvii., where only Peter and James and John were present with Christ. 3. This is said to be a Second Epistle (chap. iii. 1.), written much to the same purpose as the former. 4. St. Jude, speaking (ver. 18) “ of the scoffers that should come,” &c. cites that prediction from “ the apostles of our Lord Jesus,” (ver. 17,) where it is reasonable to believe that this Epistle (chap. iii. 3) is referred to ; for in it those very words are met with, (and are not so in any other apostolic writing,) “ Knowing this first,” &c. Compare Jude 17 and 18 with 2 Pet. iii 3. All this in all copies stands unmoved to secure the authority of this Epistle, and to convince us of the author of it. See Dr. Hammond's preface to the Second Epistle of Peter. "
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 1 Book III, Chapter III Of the Epistles of the Apostles (p. 72)—
" 1 Catholic. The word here plainly means universally received ; i. e. genuine, s it is happily rendered by Shorting. "
- Crusé, Valesius, footnote 2 Book VI, Chapter XII Serapion, and the Writings Ascribed to Him (p. 217)—
" 2 Rhosse was a town of Cilicia. Plutarch calls it Orossus. "
- Two keys gold and silver
- For example, the two sculptures at the end of the main aisle of the Basilica of St Paul Without the Walls in Rome.