Crucifixion of St. Peter by Caravaggio
| West: Prince of the Apostles, First Pope|
East: Pre-eminent Apostle
|Born||Born::1 BC, Bethsaida|
|Died||Died::64 AD, Rome, by crucifixion|
|Venerated in|| Roman Catholicism|
|Major shrine||St. Peter's Basilica|
|Feast||June 29 (with Paul the Apostle)|
|Attributes||Keys of Heaven and Papal vestments|
|Patronage||Bakers, Bridge builders, Butchers, Fishermen, Harvesters, Cordwainers, Horologists, Locksmiths, Cobblers, Masons, Net makers, and the Papacy.|
Peter (Greek: Πέτρος, Petros or Κηφᾶς, Kēphas; Aramaic: כיפא, Kēfā; "Name means::Rock") (Born::1 BC – Died::64 AD) whose original name was Simon (Hebrew: שמעון, Shimʻōn; "hearing"), was a contemporary eyewitness and disciple of Jesus Christ. He was the son of Jonah (Johannes) and was born in Bethsaida in Galilee (John 1:42-44 ). His brother Andrew was also an apostle. Near the end of his life he worked in Rome, which led up to his martyrdom for the sake of his Savior. He is considered the first Pope by the Catholic Church.
According to the New Testament, before becoming a disciple of Jesus, Peter (then Simon) was a fisherman along with his brother, Andrew. The synoptic gospels all recount how his mother-in-law was healed by Jesus at their home in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14-17 ; Mark 1:29-31 ; Luke 4:38 ) — implying that Peter was married.
While fishing in the Lake of Gennesaret, Simon and his brother Andrew were called by Jesus to be his followers, with the words, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:18-19 ; Mark 1:16-17 ).
Peter is frequently mentioned in the Gospels as forming, with James the Elder and John, a special group within the Twelve Apostles, present at incidents, such as the Transfiguration of Jesus, that the others were not party to. Peter is also often depicted in the Gospels as spokesman of all the apostles, and as one to whom Jesus gave special authority.
"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven." - Matthew 16:18-19
House in Capernaum
- Main Article: Capernaum
The location of the Peter's house in Capernaum is known from the historic use of its location by the early Christian Church. His house, like others in Capernaum, was part of a small cluster of rooms that shared a large courtyard. It is suggested that several families may have lived together in this manner.
Excavation trenches of the room that is believed to be Peter's house revealed occupational layers which contained evidence of daily life, such as jars, cooking pots, bowls, lamps, that were dated from the 2nd Century BC to the late 1st Century AD. Above these layers was found at least six superimposed layers of white plaster and some painted fragments of plaster that had originally decorated the inner walls of that room. The only evidence of occupation at this level was a good number of tiny little pieces of Herodian lamps that were embedded in the white plastered pavements and along the inner walls that can be dated typologically in the second half of the 1st Century AD, and not later than the beginning of the second century. It is also noteworthy that the superimposed plastered pavements were kept scrupulously clean, wherein no occupational soil was found, and an almost complete absence of daily life vessels. This room is very unique in that it is the only one found from all of the living quarters excavated at Capernaum with plastered pavement and walls. These special conditions have led scholars to conclude that the traditional house of Peter was used for community gatherings as early as the third quarter of the 1th Century AD.
During the late 4th Century AD the cluster of homes where Peter lived was modified into a Church, while leaving Peter's house standing as a focal point for the gatherings. Several of the houses adjacent to Peter's house were torn down and an impressive enclosure wall built encompassing a perimeter, which measured 112.25 m. Peter's home itself (which measured 5.80 by 6.45m) received some significant renovations including a new polychrome pavement, an arch was added in order to subdivide the space in two units, one of the walls was rebuilt along with the roof, and lastly an atrium and side-chamber were added. Inner walls of the house were then plastered and decorated with colorful geometric patterns and floral motifs. Graffiti in the form of symbols and monograms were found in several languages including Greek, Paleo-Estrangelo, Aramaic, and Latin. The graffiti found at the house of Peter offers clear testimony that the site was used by early Christian. The name and the monograms of Jesus occur in several instances including the description of Him as the Lord Christ, the Most High, and God.
In the fifth century octagonal Byzantine Church that was build on the site to preserve the location of St. Peter's house, the foundation of which is clearly visible at the site today. The structure was constructed with a smaller and larger concentric octagon. The foundation of the smaller central octagon were set exactly upon the walls of the square room attributed to the house of St. Peter. In a second phase of construction a baptismal was added.
The history of Peter's house, can be summarized as follows:
- Late Hellenistic period - original house was built.
- Late 1st Century AD it became a house for religious gatherings.
- 4th Century AD it was renovated, enlarged, and walled-off.
- Second half of the 5th Century AD an octagonal church was built and remained in use until the 7th Century AD.
- In 1990, a Franciscan church was built over the House of Peter.
- His father's name is given as 'Jonah' (John 1:42 , Matthew 16:17 ), although some manuscripts of John give his father's name as John. The two words are different names in Hebrew, but in New Testament Greek they are very similar, leading to discrepancies among some manuscripts.
- Capernaum: Insula Sacra - The Private Houses by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda, Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta.
- Capernaum: Insula Sacra - The Domus-Ecclesia by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda, Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta.
- Capernaum: Insula Sacra - The Octagonal Church by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda, Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta.
- Capernaum: Insula Sacra by Fr. Stanislao Loffreda, Franciscans of the Holy Land and Malta.
- Catholic Encyclopedia - St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles
- Wikipedia - Saint Peter
- Encyclopædia Britannica - Saint Peter the Apostle (Christian Apostle)