Saint Peter is the first Pope of the Catholic Church and there remains an unbroken line of Popes from Saint Peter to Pope Francis.
Though Saint Peter’s birth date remains uncertain, he is believed to have died in 64 AD. Saint Peter is the patron saint of fishermen, net makers, and ship builders.
He was canonized by Christ as the “rock of the church” described in Matthew chapter 16, verse 18. His feast day is June 29, however several groups honor him on February 22nd and November 18th as well.
Saint Peter was born Simon Peter of Cephas. He was a fisherman who met Jesus while in his boat. He and his brother Andrew had been experiencing trouble catching fish but when Jesus saw the boats, he told them to cast their nets into deep water and He would fill them. Peter and his brother cast their nets and sure enough they caught so many fish their nets began to tear.
By the time the nets had been emptied on board, the boats were nearly sinking. When Simon Peter realized what happened, he admitted he was a sinful man and Jesus told him, “from now on it is people you will be catching.” Peter became one of Jesus’ disciples that very day and was present for several miracles.
Following Christ’s death, it was Peter who denied knowing Jesus three times before a rooster crowed twice and following the Resurrection, Jesus gave Peter three chances to make up for the denials by asking Peter if he loved Him. Each time Peter responded that he did love Jesus, and so he was resolved of his guilt.
There are several stories of Peter’s accomplishments following Jesus’ ascension, including the story of how he escaped King Herod with help from an angel. Peter helped spread the Gospel to Gentiles, baptized people, and was eventually martyred.
When he was to be crucified, he admitted he was not worthy of dying the same way Jesus did, and was crucified upside-down. Following his death, Peter was buried on Vatican Hill, where Emperor Constantine I honored him with a large basilica.
In 1950, bone shards were discovered and Pope Paul the 6th announced they belonged to Peter. On November 24, 2013, Pope Francis revealed the relics of nine bone fragments for the first time in public during a Mass celebrated at St. Peter’s Square.
Artwork featuring Saint Peter often depicts him as an elderly man holding a key and book, though his symbols also include an inverted cross, a boat, and a rooster.
To learn more about St. Peter, visit Catholic.org.