In icons the Apostle Peter is usual depicted with short, curly hair and a beard, identifying him as the fiery and impulsive leader of the Twelve.
Feast Day: June 29
Peter’s name was originally Simon. Born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee (John 1:42, 44), he was the son of Jonah (John) and the older brother of Andrew, the First-Called.
Like his father, Jonah, Simon was a fisherman by trade. Most likely, marriage brought him to Capernaum just west of Bethsaida, where he lived in the house of his mother-in-law. Jesus lived at Peter’s house during the time of His public ministry and it was often the site of many miracles.
When Jesus called Simon to follow Him, He changed Simon’s name to Kephas, an Aramaic word meaning “rock.” In translation, the name is Petros (Greek), Petro (Ukrainian) and Peter (English).
When Jesus asked His apostles who they thought He was, Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16). Jesus then said to him, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build by church, and the powers of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). He added: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:19). Jesus chose Simon-Peter to be the leader among the apostles, the “first among equals.”
In his work as an apostle and missionary, Peter first preached in Judea and help found Jewish-Christian communities there. He then went on to establish the Gentile-Christian Church of Antioch, presiding as its founding bishop for seven years. After appointing a successor, he moved on to preach in various communities in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia Minor and Bithynia. His missionary activity ended in Rome, were he became the first bishop of the church established there, holding this office for 25 years.
Peter was condemned to death by order of the Emperor Nero. After choosing Linus to be his successor and installing him as the new Bishop of Rome, Peter encouraged his flock and went with joy to a martyr’s death. When he saw the cross before him, he requested to be crucified head downwards, because he felt unworthy to die the same way as the Lord. And this great servant and apostle of Christ went to his rest, receiving an eternal crown of glory in the kingdom of heaven.
Two of his letters have been included in the canon of the New Testament. He is also regarded as the primary source for the Gospel of Mark, for Mark was his disciple, interpreter and scribe.
The Feast Day of the Holy Apostle Paul