St Peter's birth name was Simon. He was the son of Jona. He was born in Bethsaida , a town on lake Genesareth ( John 1:44 ) .St Andrew was his brother and St Philip came from the same town.
St Peter lived in Capernaum.He had his own house where he lived with his wife, children and mother-in-law. The Lord cured St Peter's mother-in law from an illness (Matthew 8 :14 -15)
He was a fisherman and had his own boat. St Peter was of strong character and firm faith.
The Martyrdom of St Peter and St Paul is celebrated on 29th June. It is believed they were martyred in Rome . St Paul was probably beheaded with a sword as he was a Roman citizen. St Peter was crucified with his head downwards. It is believed that St Peter was martyred first.
The Lord called St Peter and his brother Andrew to be disciples (Matthew 4 :18 -20) Come with me , and I will make you fishers of men. They both went instantly.
St Peter's great confession of faith (Matthew 16:16 -20) You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, led to the Lord saying, You are Peter,the Rock; and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall never conquer it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven . (Matthew 16:18-19). This shows us how much the Lord trusted St Peter.
When the Lord was arrested St Peter rushed to defend him, and cut off the ear of one of the high priests servants, but the Lord miraculously restored it . St Peter fled with all the other Apostles, but later followed the guards to the high priests courtyard where he denied the Lord three times.He then cried bitter tears of regret. Once he regained his strength he was truly the Rock on which the church was founded ,and he gave strength and faith to the other Apostles.
The Lord Foretold Peters death in John 21:15-19
Saint Peter as Head of the Apostles:
On many occasions in the Bible St Peter speaks for the other Apostles (Matthew 19:27 ) We here have left everything to become your followers.
Frequently the Lord turns to Peter, as in the garden at Gethsemany: What!Could none of you stay awake with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40) and Simon son of John do you love me more than all else? (John 21:15-23).
Saint Peter was with the Lord on many important occasions in the Bible:
The raising of Jairus daughter (Mark 5:37 )
The Transfiguration (Mark 9:1)
The agony in the garden at Gethsemany (Mark 14:33 )
The Lord preaches to the multitudes in St Peters boat (Luke 5:3)
Saint Peter walked to the Lord across the water (Matthew 14:28 -33)
The Lord sent St Peter to the Lake to catch fish in whose mouth St Peter found a silver coin to pay his tax (Matthew 17:27)
The Lord told Saint Peter that satan had been allowed to sift him and the other Apostles like wheat, but the Lord prayed that Peter would not lose faith and once he had recovered he was to help his brothers.( Luke 22: 31-32)
The Lord foretells Saint Peter's denial (Mathew 26:30-35)
The Lord washes his Disciples feet. (John 13:1-10)
Peter at first would not allow the Lord to do this, but relented when the Lord explained to him that it had to be done.
The Lord confirms Peter as leader of the Apostles on many occasions in the Bible:
At the Last Supper,when the Lord told Peter that he would deny him three times before the cock crowed , Peter was then told that once he had recovered he was to give strength to his brothers.
At the Resurrection, the Myrr Bearing Women were given a message for Peter (Mark 16: 7) Go and give this message to his disciples and Peter.
The Lord also appeared to Peter alone (Luke 24:34) The Lord has risen;he has appeared to Simon. In John 21:15-17 the Lord gave Peter a special command to feed my sheep.
After the Ascension, when the disciples are in Jerusalem , Peter is recognised as the head of the Christians, and takes the initiative to replace Judas (Acts 1:15 -16). After the Holy Spirit comes upon the Apostles, Peter delivers a sermon to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of the Lord. He worked a miracle and cured a lame man at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3:1-10.
When Peter and John were arrested and brought before the Jewish High Council in Jerusalem Peter defended the right of the Apostles to preach (Acts 4:1-25)
Peter judged Ananias and Saphira in acts 5 :1-11 when they tried to deceive the Apostles.
He also judged the magician Simon in Acts 8 :14-25
People also carried their sick before Peter so that his shadow might fall upon them that they might be cured. (Acts 5:12-16)
Peter taught in Jerusalem , Palestine and further North in Samaria . He preached in Lydda,Joppa and Caesarea . In Lydda he cured Aeneas who had been bed-ridden for eight years with paralysis (Acts 9: 32 -35). In Joppa he raised Tabitha from the dead. (Acts 9: 36-43).
The tradition exists that Peter founded the Church in Antioch , and he appointed Evodrius as the first in the line of Bishops of Antioch. Peter went to Asia Minor . He lived in Corinth and planted the first seeds of the Christian Church there. Occasionally he went back to Jerusalem .
Saint Peter in Prison and the persecution of the Infant Church:
The first Christians suffered persecution at the hands of the Jews. The Apostle James,son of Zebedee was executed. Saint Stephen was stoned with Saul (later Saint Paul) present at his murder. Peter was imprisoned and freed by an Angel of the Lord (Acts 12:1-19).
The divisons in the early Church between the Jewish and Non-Jewish Christians.
After Peter escaped from prison, he mixed with Non-Jewish Christians. He visited their homes and shared their meals,but did not want to appear over friendly with them, in case he offended the Christians of Jewish birth. It was i n Caesarea , after he had a vision, and he baptised the first Non-Jewish Christians Cornelius and his Kinsmen . (Acts 10: 1-43) that his attitudes changed. As Peter said:-
I now see how true it is that God has no favourites, but that in every nation the man who is Godfearing and does what is right is acceptable to him. Thus it was Peter who showed those of Jewish birth that the Lord accepts anyone, circumcised or not , so long as you accept his laws and do his will. They were all brothers in Christ.
In Acts 11:1-18 Peter explained his decision to those of Jewish birth and they all accepted it and rejoiced - This means that God has granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles also.
The death of Saint Peter.
Peter stayed in Rome for the last part of his life and was martyred there.The Church in Rome was founded by Saint Peter and Saint Paul . Saint Peter's First Epistle was written from Rome . In John 21:18-19 Christ foretold how Peter would die-
..when you were young you fastened your belt about you and walked where you chose;but when you are old you will stretch out your arms and a stranger will bind you fast, and carry you where you have no wish to go.
Saint Peter was executed in the Neronian Gardens in the Vatican . He was also buried there. It is believed that this probably occurred during Nero's persecution of the church in about 67 A.D. , the fourteenth year of the Nero's reign. Saint Peter was crucified with his head facing downwards as he had himself chosen, believing that he was not worthy to die in the same way as the Lord.
His remains stayed with Saint Paul 's for a while in the place where the church of Saint Sebastian, dedicated to the two Saints, now stands. The remains were brought there in about 258 A.D. at the start of the Valerian Persecutions to avoid desecration. They were later placed at a magnificent basilica erected by Constantine the Great at the foot of the Vatican Hill.