Saint Peter the Apostle is the patron saint of our parish. Also known as Simon Peter or Cephas, the first pope, Prince of the Apostles, and founder, with St. Paul, of the see of Rome.
The First Disciple
Peter was a native of Bethsaida, near Lake Tiberias. He was called Simon before meeting Jesus. He worked as a fisherman with his brother Andrew. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus, and Jesus called Peter to become a disciple. Jesus gave Simon a new name, Cephas, or “the rock”. After becoming a disciple, Peter acknowledged Jesus as “… the Messiah, the son of the living God”. Jesus responded to Peter, “… you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church…” Jesus also told Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The First of the Apostles
Peter was recorded more than any other disciple in the New Testament. Peter was at Jesus’s sides at the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the Agony of the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter played a major role in the Passion of Jesus. He helped organize the Last Supper. When Jesus was arrested, Peter cut off the right ear of a slave of the high priest Malchus. Just as Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper, Peter denied Christ three times. After the Resurrection, Peter went to the tomb with the other disciple. The first appearance of the Risen Christ was before Peter, ahead of the other disciples, at Tiberias. Jesus gave to Peter the famous command to lead the new Church, “Feed my lambs…. Tend my sheep…. Feed my sheep”.
The Head of the Apostles
As made evident in the Acts of the Apostles, immediately after the Ascension, Peter served as the head of the Apostles. He appointed the replacement of Judas Iscariot. He spoke first to the crowds that assembled during the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He was the first Apostle to perform miracles in the name of the Lord. Peter was nicknamed the “Apostle to the Jews”, and he was instrumental in delivering the Gospel to the Gentiles. At the Council of Jerusalem, he pledged support to preaching to the Gentiles; thus permitted the new Church to become universal. He was imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa, he was aided by an angel to escape. Peter continued his apostolate in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and Rome.
Peter was martyred in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, around 64 AD. According to tradition, Peter was crucified upside doen on the Vatican Hill because he claimed he was not worthy to die in the same manner as the Lord. He was buried on Vatican Hill. Excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica have unearthed his probable tomb. St. Peter’s relics are enshrined under the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.
The First Pope
Peter is recognized as the Prince of the Apostles, and the Supreme Pontiff. His successors provide leadership over the entire Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Peter’s chief feast day is June 29 (Feast of Peter and Paul), he is also honored on February 22 (Feast of the Chair of Peter, emblematic of the world unity of the Church) and November 18 (Feast of the dedication of the Basilicas of Peter and Paul) .
In liturgical art, Saint Peter is depicted as an elderly man holding a key and a book. His symbols include keys (of Heaven), an inverted cross, a boat, and the cock.
Papacy; Popes; Universal Church; bakers; bridge builders; butchers; clock makers; cobblers; fishermen; harvesters; locksmiths; masons; net makers; ship builders; shoemakers; stone masons; watch makers