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Statue of Saint Peter
Saint Peter Became a Rock-like and Fearless Apostle
Peter and his brother Andrew, both fishermen, were the first two disciples whom Jesus called to follow Him. Peter's original name was Simon but Jesus changed it to Peter, which comes from a Greek word meaning rock. This was intended as a sign that, whatever his weaknesses at the time when he became a disciple, Peter would eventually turn into the rock-like and fearless character around whom the church could be built up.
In all lists of the Twelve Apostles, Peter is always put first and it is clear that the writers of the Gospels regarded him as the chief apostle. He was one of three - the others were James and John - whom Jesus allowed to be present on very important occasions. For example, it was these three who were present at the Transfiguration, and who were with Jesus while He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested and crucified. Again, Peter was the first to realise that Jesus was more than a prophet and that He was the long-awaited Messiah. St. Matthew (chapter 16) describes how, after Peter had said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God', Jesus replied, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.'
Peter plays an important part in many of the Bible and Gospel stories and in the early time of the Apostles. The Gospels show him as lovable person. He is full of energy determined to use it in the service of his master but sometimes he loses courage - as when he denied that he knew Jesus after Jesus had been arrested. St. Matthew (chapter 26) describes how Jesus prophesied to Peter 'that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice', this was exactly what happened. In the Acts however, when we meet him again after he has seen the risen Christ, he fears nobody. With Paul, he was largely responsible for the Christian faith after Christ's death.
Peter met his death during the persecutions of the Emperor Nero (probably in 64 A.D. and probably in Rome). His day is kept on June 29.