Many people immediately associate Saint Peter as the man who denied Jesus three times during the Passion stories, yet there is so much more that we should learn about the influential and powerful man who was a pillar of strength from which the Catholic Church was founded upon.
Originally a fisherman by the name of “Simon” and later given the name “Cephas” (Peter) which means “rock” by Jesus, Saint Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples who carried out the Good News of the Gospel even after Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
In the Gospel, Jesus declares that He will make Peter “a fisher of men” and a rock on which he will build His Church and be given keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, Saint Peter is often depicted in art holding a set of keys.
After Jesus died, Saint Peter went out to baptize and preach to the Gentiles, including the Romans who were Pagans. Saint Peter became a strong leader in the early Church community who wrote epistles to early Christian communities and who also performed miracles in Jesus’ name. Therefore, Peter’s authority as a leader in the Church community is what qualifies him to be considered the first Pope of the Church.
Saint Peter was crucified in Rome upside down on a cross since he did not feel worthy of receiving the same crucifixion as our Savior. It is through Peter that we discover the human experience of having a relationship with our Lord. Just like Peter, we strive to know Him, to be friends with Him, and to serve Him, but sometimes we fail due to our own worries, doubts, and human insecurities. Yet, Jesus did not stop loving Peter and even extended His forgiveness to Peter after Peter denied Jesus three times. Let us learn from Peter how to seek forgiveness from the Lord when we have failed him and to allow God’s mercy to flood our hearts. – Meaghan Osborne