Born: c. 1 A.D. in Bethsaida, Gaulanitis, Syria, Roman Empire (Birth name: Shimon (Simeon, Simon))
Died: between A.D. 64 and 68 (age 62 to 67) in Clementine Chapel, Vatican Hill, Rome, Italia, Roman Empire
Venerated: All Christian denominations that venerate saints
Feast Day: June 29 (Main feast with Saint Paul the Apostle)
Patronages: See List
Saint Peter was a fisherman of Galilee, named Simon, and the son of John. His brother, Andrew, introduced him to Christ about whom they had probably heard from John the Baptist, and he became His disciple, ultimately giving up his family and possessions to follow Him. Christ changed his name to Peter (Rock) and made him the Rock on which His Church was to be built. After His Resurrection, Jesus conferred the primacy on Peter and he became the Vicar of Christ and the head of the Apostles, the first Pope.
The Gospels speak about Peter more than any other Apostle. He was honored on many occasions; several miracles were performed for his benefit; Christ stayed at his home, preached from his boat, sent him the first message of the Resurrection, and appeared to him personally. Often Peter acted as spokesman for the other Apostles. Finally, mention is made of his defects: his anger, imperfect faith, impetuosity, and his triple denial of Christ.
After the Ascension, Peter began his work as head of the Church. He directed the election of Matthias, delivered the first public Apostolic sermon, cure a man lame from birth, and received a Divine commission to receive Gentiles into the Church. After the execution of James, the brother of John, by Herod Agrippa, Peter was miraculously rescued from prison. He presided at the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem in the year 50, when it was officially declared that the Gentile converts to the Faith were not subject to the Jewish law of circumcision. Afterward, he went to Antioch, where it was decided that not even the Jews were bound to observe the Mosaic Law.
Saint Peter dwelt in Rome intermittently for 25 years as founder and first Bishop of the Church there. Finally, in the last year of Nero's reign, 67, he was crucified with his head downward, at his own request, not deeming himself worthy to die as did his Divine Master. Two Epistles of the New Testament are attributed to him and the Gospel of Saint Mark, who was his disciple, has been called "The Gospel of Peter."
PRAYER: God, You give us a holy joy as we celebrate the solemnity of the Apostles of Saints Peter and Paul. Grant that Your Church may follow their teaching and example in all things, for it is through them that Christianity began its development. Amen.