Top 15 Amazing Facts about Saint Peter
Originally published by Lilian on May 2021 and updated by Charity K on August 2022 and Updated by Vanessa R on June 2023
Saint Peter who was also known as Simon Peter, and was called Cephas by Jesus, was one of the 12 disciples. He was also one of the first leaders of the early church.
He was born in Bethsaida and grew up to be a fisherman together with his brother Andrew. People knew him as Simeon, this was his Hebrew name.
One thing that stood out about St. Peter was his character. He was described as being rash and hasty while sometimes he was short-tempered.
In some instances, Peter was said to be gentle but firm. He loved Jesus and proved to be loyal. Unlike Paul, Peter only spoke Hebrew and had to learn Greek.
Later on, Peter became the patron saints of Popes and Rome. Many cities around the world bear his names such as St. Petersburg in Russia and St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
It is also believed that he holds the keys to heaven. There is more about St. Peter, read them in the facts below.
1. Peter was crucified upside down
Peter was crucified in Rome by Emperor Nero who accused Christians of the Rome fire in year 64. He ordered the crucifixion of all Christians.
St. Peter was crucified in Nero’s Circus which was near Vatican Hill. This exact location is where the Vatican is located, hence the name of the church St. Peter’s Basilica.
His final request before crucifixion was to be crucified upside down. This was because he felt he was not worth being crucified upright like Jesus.
His death had been predicted by Jesus; Jesus had told him that he will die a martyr.
2. Peter was the first Pope
Peter was considered to be the first Pope of Rome. According to the Eastern Christian church, he was also the first patriarch of Antioch.
He was revered as the founder of the Church of Antioch. Peter became the Bishop of the Diocese of Rome. Jesus had promised Peter a special position in the church.
Peter first met Jesus while listening to a sermon by John the Baptist. Immediately, Peter knew he was the messiah. Jesus called him the Rock, meaning he would be the foundation of the church.
3. Peter was a fisherman
Peter grew up in Bethsaida and was a fisherman together with his younger brother Andrew. They used to dish together with James and John who were the sons of Zebedee.
One incident that was reported in the bible was when they caught more fish than they usually did. This was after they had spent the night in the sea and caught nothing.
Jesus had instructed them to cast their nets on the opposite side. After their big catch, Peter left everything and followed Jesus.
He was called the fishers of men by Jesus, a practice which he went back to after Jesus was resurrected.
Jesus used to preach on the boat that Peter owned.
4. There is a Church on the same foundation as St. Peter’s House
There is a Franciscan church built on the foundation of the hose that belonged to St Peter.
Archaeologists believe that the town was not an urban one, but a small fishing village. The remains from the site indicate that the town was not large and not that significant.
They also reported that there was a church at Bethsaida that had been built over Peter and Andrew’s house. The church had been built around the year 725.
5. Peter’s Basilica is named after him
The original Saint Peter’s Basilica was commissioned by Constantine I around 324. It was at this Basilica that Charlemagne was crowned the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.
This church existed between the 4th and16th centuries. It is the current location of Vatican City. The church was damaged during the Arab raid against Rome in 846.
They plundered the outskirts of the city of Rome while sacking the basilicas of Old St Peter’s and St Paul’s-Outside-the-Walls.
Although there is little evidence of the original Basilica, archaeologists found a piece of mosaic from the 8th century.
6. As a disciple, he was named Cephas by Jesus
According to the gospel of John, he wrote that when Jesus met Simo Peter, he immediately called him Cephas. This name means rock in Aramaic, a language that Jesus spoke.
During those days, the people were given nicknames according to their character. Peter’s nickname was very important and prophetic as well.
Jesus also predicted Peter’s death saying he would be persecuted. However, throughout the bible, Peter is not referred to as Cephas, but by his birth name Simon Peter.
7. His character was the most outstanding of all the 12 disciples
One of the most interesting disciples of Jesus was Peter. He was the most outspoken, assertive and loyal. He loved Jesus and was very dedicated to spreading the gospel.
Peter was also very inquisitive and did not hesitate to ask questions he did not understand. He always sought clarification.
8. St Peter was the leader of the 12 disciples
Peter was not the leader of the disciples at the beginning. It is recorded that he was not educated and was not bilingual.
Greek was an important language in those days, and Peter had to learn the language. Although it took him time to learn, he eventually did and was given more responsibilities.
In the gospel books, Peter is referred to as the leader of the disciples. He was there in every important event and was always with Jesus.
It was Peter, James and John who were always included in important events such as the transfiguration that happened in Gethsemane.
Peter was also the spokesman of the disciples and took precedence over the others. This was probably because he was the most outspoken and was not afraid of asking questions.
9. Important Squares and churches were dedicated to St. Peter
There are several churches and city squares all over the world named after St. Peter. In Vatican City, St. Peter’s Basilica has dedicated to him as well as the square in front of the church.
It is believed that he was crucified on a hill, now known as Vatican hill by Emperor Nero. This happened after the great fire of Rome. Emperor Nero accused the Christians of causing the fire. He persecuted the Christian community in the city.
Another city is St. Petersburg in Russia, it is a port city on the Baltic sea.
10. Peter died a martyr
In the gospel book of John, Jesus told Peter he would be a martyr. He also described how he would die by stretching out his arms. Peter was crucified on the cross, but upside down.
An excavation done near St. Peter’s Basilica revealed bones believed to be of a male person. Further examination of the bones showed that he was about 60 years old.
Pope Paul VI later, in 1968, announced that the bones were possibly the remains of St. Peter.
Part of the relics was presented in public during mass at St. Peter’s Square.
11. Simon Peter’s Name appears many times in the New Testament
In the New Testament, the name “Simon Peter” is found 19 times. He appears repeatedly and prominently in all four gospels as well as the Acts of the Apostles. The Gospel of Mark in particular was traditionally thought to show the influence of Peter’s preaching and eyewitness memories. He is also mentioned, under either the name Peter or Cephas, in Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians and the Epistle to the Galatians.
12. Two Epistles in the New Testament Named after Peter
The New Testament also includes two general epistles, First Peter and Second Peter, that are traditionally attributed to him, but modern scholarship generally rejects the Petrine authorship of both.
Nevertheless, Evangelicals and Catholics have always affirmed Peter’s authorship, and recently, a growing number of scholars have revived the claim of Petrine authorship of these epistles.
13. Many Apocryphal Books were Attributed to Peter
Outside of the New Testament, several apocryphal books were later attributed to him, in particular, the Acts of Peter, Gospel of Peter, Preaching of Peter, Apocalypse of Peter, and Judgment of Peter, although scholars believe these works to be pseudepigrapha.
According to the Acts of the Apostles, Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to Samaria (Acts 8:14). Peter/Cephas is mentioned briefly in the opening chapter of one of the Pauline epistles, Epistle to the Galatians, which mentions a trip by Paul the Apostle to Jerusalem where he meets Peter (Galatians 1:18). Peter features again in Galatians, fourteen years later, when Paul (now with Barnabas and Titus) returned to Jerusalem (Galatians 2:7–9). Galatians 2:7–When Peter came to Antioch, Paul opposed Peter to his face “because he [Peter] was in the wrong” (Galatians 2:11).
14. The Record of Peter’s Escape from Prison
The New Testament in Acts 12 talks about the Apostles. In addition, it records the death of the first apostle, James, son of Zebedee, followed by the miraculous escape of Peter from prison, the death of Herod Agrippa I, and the early ministry of Barnabas and Paul of Tarsus. The book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that Luke composed this book as well as the Gospel of Luke.
15. Peter Surprised Believers When He Appeared to them at Rhoda’s House
Peter’s reception by the church in this account has an element of humor that far from expecting their prayers to be answered, the believers are completely taken aback when Peter knocks at the door that the maid Rhoda (another minor character noted by Luke) runs back to the house instead of quickly open the door, so despite his supernatural escape, when prison doors were opened up for him, the house doors ‘remain obstinately closed’ for Peter.
St. Peter’s Most Memorable Quotes and Their Meaning
1. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16)
In this quote, Peter accepts Jesus’ divinity and recognises Him as the long-awaited Messiah. The passage stresses Peter’s acceptance of Jesus’ true nature and his trust in Him.
2. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)
Peter’s boldness and determination to put his faith in Jesus in spite of difficult circumstances can be shown in his request to walk on water. It represents his desire to grow closer to Christ and take a leap of faith.
3. “But in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Peter urged Christians to live with a deep respect for Christ and to be prepared to explain their faith to others. It emphasises how crucial it is to be ready to articulate how a connection with Jesus inevitably leads to hope.
4. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
In making this declaration, Peter showed his unwavering faith in Jesus as the only way to find eternal salvation. His conviction that following Christ is the only path to meaningful life and fulfilment is emphasised by this.