SAINT PETER (SIMON) THE APOSTLE

 

I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
                                                                                                                                
Matthew 16:18-19 (NIV)


It has been said that the apostle Peter was a slender person.  He was of a middle size, inclining to tallness, and that his complexion was pale (almost white.)  It has, also, been said that he had a short, thick, curled beard, thin eyebrows (or no eyebrows at all). 
Another description of the apostle Peter is that his eyes were black, but flecked with red due to frequent weeping. 
Peter was born in Betsaida (in Galilee, Israel). By profession, he was a fisherman.  His father, also a fisherman, was named Jona; his brother, the apostle Andrew.  He and his brother (Andrew), along with their partners (the apostles James and John) were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Zebedee (the father of James and John) was also a partner.

So firm was Peter's faith that Jesus gave him the name of Cephas, meaning, in the Syriac language, a rock 
Paul of Tarsus called Peter as Cephas, in the same way that Jesus did. This Hellenized Hebrew word of Aramaic “Cephas” was not a proper name, but Paul assigns him as such. 
“Petros” and “petra” are the Greek equivalent to the Syriac “Cephas”, which means rock, and there is no difference at all between Petros and petra.

 

 

To better understand what Christ meant, St. Basil elaborates:
“Though Peter be a rock, yet he is not a rock as Christ is. For Christ is the true unmovable rock of himself, Peter is unmovable by Christ the rock. For Jesus doth communicate and impart his dignities, not voiding himself of them, but holding them to himself, bestoweth them also upon others. He is the light, and yet 2. You are the light: he is the Priest, and yet he 3. maketh Priests: he is the rock, and he made a rock.”
                                                                                                                Basil li. De poenit. cƒ. Matt. v. 14 ; Luke 22:19

The house, in which Peter lived, in Capernaum, is still standing; in the 5th century AD, however, a Christian church was constructed over it. 
It was Peter who preached to the masses in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (following Jesus' ascension to heaven.) His message is recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, the book of Acts, chapter 2.

Peter is, also, the one who prompted the disciples to choose a replacement to take over the apostolic ministry of Judas Iscariot (after Judas' betrayal of Christ Jesus). It was, also, Peter who healed a man, who was over 40 years of age, who had been crippled from birth, with but the words, Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.

Peter was called by the apostle Paul a pillar of the Church.  It was, also, believed by the crowds that the mere casting of his shadow upon the sick was capable of bringing about miraculous healing. 
Peter is the one who defended the inclusion of the Gentiles (non-Jews) into the Christian Church at the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem. His ministry was primarily to the Jews, as the apostle Paul's was to the Gentiles.

After being imprisoned several times in Jerusalem because of his faith, Peter left with his wife and possibly others. It is believed that he ministered (in Babylon) to the Jewish colonists there. It is also believed to be his location when he wrote his first epistle (1 Peter.) 
Peter eventually went to Rome. While there, it is believed that John Mark (the writer of the Gospel of Mark) served as his translator as he preached.  There is a Church tradition which says that Mark the disciple and interpreter of the apostle Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome, embodying what he had heard Peter tell.  Thus Peter was the source of the Gospel of Mark.  

According to Church tradition, the Roman Emperor Nero, publicly announcing himself the chief enemy of God, was led in his fury to slaughter the Apostles. As a result of this persecution, Peter was executed in a way of being crucified upside down while in Rome. 
in regard of the last hours of his life it is said that Peter, when seeing his own wife led out to die, rejoiced because of her summons and her return home. He called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, O thou, remember the Lord.

Of the final days of the apostle Peter in Rome Jowett wrote that Peter was cast into a horrible prison called the Mamertine. For nine months, in absolute darkness, he endured monstrous torture manacled to a post. In spite of all the suffering Peter was subjected to, he converted his jailers, Processus, Martinianus, and forty-seven others. 
Peter met his death at the hand of the Romans in Nero's circus, 67 AD.

Church tradition holds that Peter's inverted crucifixion occurred at the spot now occupied by the Clementine Chapel, also known as La Clementina, in the grottoes of Saint Peter's Basilica, with the burial in Saint Peter's tomb nearby. 

                                                                  

In the early 4th century, the Emperor Constantine I decided to honour Peter with a large basilica. Because the precise location of Peter's burial was so firmly fixed in the belief of the Christians of Rome, the church to house the basilica had to be erected on a site that was not convenient to construction. The slope of the Vatican Hill had to be excavated, even though the church could much more easily have been built on level ground only slightly to the south. 
The focal point of the Basilica, both in its original form and in its later complete reconstruction, is the altar located over what is said to be the point of Peter's burial.

In reference to Peter's occupation before becoming an Apostle, the popes wear the Fisherman's Ring, which bears an image of the saint casting his nets from a fishing boat. The keys used as a symbol of the pope's authority refer to the keys of the kingdom of Heaven promised to Peter. (Matt. 16:18-19). The terminology of this commission of Peter is unmistakably parallel to the commissioning of Eliakim ben Hilkiah in Isaiah 22:15-23. Peter is often depicted in both Western and Eastern Christian art holding a key or a set of keys. Though the authenticity of this account has been challenged, the general consensus is that these are Jesus' words.

                                                                                                                                             

 

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