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Peter, who was also known as Simon Peter of Cephas, is considered the first Pope. Despite his papacy, Peter had humble beginnings and became one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was ordained by Jesus in the "Rock of My Church" written in Matthew 16:17-18, which says, "Jesus replied, 'Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man!
Peter was a native of Bethsaida, near Lake Tiberias and was the son of Jonah. He and his brother Andrew were fishermen on Lake Genesareth. Just like that, Peter followed Jesus and his life was changed forever.
During the Passion of the Christ Peter denied his Master three times in spite of the warning he had previously received. Following his resurrection, Christ came before his disciples several times. Peter was given three chances to admit his love for Jesus, and each time he says he does. Jesus offered Peter three chances to follow Him and with the three confirmations of love, Peter was able to balance his three previous denials.
In the time following Christ's Ascension, Peter stood as the unquestionable head of the Apostles. Peter was instrumental in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. He baptized the Roman pagan Cornelius, and at the Council of Jerusalem gave his support to preach to Gentiles, thereby permitting the new Church to become universal.
King Herod had begun to persecute specific members of the church and had James, the brother of John beheaded. The Jewish community was grateful for the persecutions so Herod continued and went after Peter. Peter was imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa but was able to escape with the help of an angel.
Following his escape, Peter resumed his apostolate in Jerusalem and his missionary efforts included travels to such cities of the pagan world as Antioch, Corinth, and eventually Rome. He made reference to the Eternal City in his first Epistle by noting that he writes from Babylon. Through a variety of works, it is certain that Peter died in Rome and that his martyrdom came during the reign of Emperor Nero, believed to be in 64 AD.
Peter was crucified on the Vatican Hill upside down because he declared himself unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord. He was then buried in Rome near the Vatican on Vatican Hill.
In 1950 human bones were discovered beneath the alter of St. Peter's Basilica and many claimed they belonged to Peter. In the 1960s, discarded debris from the excavation beneath St. Peter's Basilica were re-examined and were identified as the bones of a male human. This discovery caused Pope Paul VI in 1968 to announce they were likely to belong to the Apostle Peter. On November 24, 2013, Pope Francis revealed the relics of nine bone fragments for the first time in public during a Mass celebrated at St. Peter's Square.
While Peter's chief feast day is June 29, he is also honored on February 22 and November 18. In liturgical art, he is depicted as an elderly man holding a key and a book. His symbols include an inverted cross, a boat, and the cock.
Saint Peter/San Pedro is the patron saint of Youngsville. His Feast Day is June 29