Official name: Shimon Bar Yonah
Other names: Simon, Peter, Simeon, Peter the Apostle
Birth: 1 AD
Papacy: 30 AD
Death: Between 64 to 68 AD
Burial: Vatican Hill
About: Apostle of Jesus Christ/First Pope of Rome
Peter was Jesus' closest friend and disciple and became an apostle during his ministry. After the death of Jesus, Peter became the leader of the apostles and is often described as their spokesperson in the gospels.
Aside from his position as the most important apostle, legend has it that he held the keys of heaven and hell, which he received from Jesus Christ himself after he was made the leader of His new church. He is always mentioned first in the Bible and any other historical texts because he was the representative of the Twelve Apostles. This shows us how important St. Peter was to Christianity.
Peter was considered as one of the pillars of the early Church along with James and John. After Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, Peter began to preach his own version of Christ's teachings to everyone he could find. He began assuming the position of a leader and gathered a group of followers.
He took his preachings far and wide as he set out on various missionary activities. His dedication and contribution to the teachings of Christ and the Church is why he was considered the first Pope of Rome.
It is widely held that Saint Peter was the first Pope of Rome. He is believed to have founded the first Church in Rome and laid the foundation for all future Popes to come. All Popes are generally considered as the successors of the Saint.
Historical records suggest that the Apostles Peter and Paul traveled to Antioch and then to Rome to preach the Word of God. These texts also suggest that after founding the Church in Rome, they appointed Pope Linus as their immediate successor. The chair used by Peter in Rome for all his sermons was preserved and celebrated for years to come in commemoration of him being the first Pope of Rome.
During the reign of Emperor Nero, a widespread fire was unleashed in Rome, for which he blamed the Christians. This led to Saint Peter’s crucifixion at a site earlier known as Nero’s Circus. He requested that he be crucified with his head pointing downwards because he didn’t consider himself worthy enough to die the same way as Jesus.
After St. Peter’s death, he was buried on Vatican Hill, close to the site of his martyrdom. To honor his death, Emperor Constantine I built a church over his tomb. This church existed for over 1,200 years, after which it began crumbling, unable to be restored through reparation. However, this site continued to remain as the final resting place of the Saint.
In the year 1950, a set of human bones were discovered under the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, which was believed to belong to the Apostle. A few years later in 1953, excavations in Jerusalem revealed an alleged tomb of Saint Peter. It was found next to other tombs with the names Jesus, Mary, John, James, and the other Apostles. This was discredited as those names were very common at the time.
During the 1960s, the earlier relics were reexamined and found to belong to a 61-year-old male from the first century. Following this analysis, Pope Paul VI announced to the public that the bones most likely belonged to Saint Peter. These relics were presented to the public at a mass held on November 24, 2013.
A. Saint Peter was one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ and the first leader of the Christian Church.
A. Saint Peter is widely regarded as the first Pope of Christendom.
A. St. Peter’s Papacy began roughly around 30 AD and lasted until his death.
A. St. Peter was crucified at Vatican Hill.
A. St. Peter was sentenced to crucifixion by Emperor Nero.
A. St. Peter was buried at Vatican Hill.
A. St. Peter asked to be crucified with his head facing downwards because he felt he wasn’t worthy enough to die the same way as Jesus.
A. Before the current Basilica existed, St. Peter’s Tomb lay below the Old St. Peter’s Basilica.
A. It is believed that the relics of the Apostle were found through excavations and placed at St. Peter’s Basilica.