Peter, the first bishop of Rome (we now call the bishop of Rome, the Pope), was a fisherman from Bethsaida. Jesus invited him to follow him, saying: "I will make you a fisher of men". Peter was a simple, hard-working man. He was generous, honest and very attached to Jesus.
This great apostle's original name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means "rock". "You are Peter", Jesus said, "and on this rock I will build my Church". Peter was the leader of the apostles.
When Jesus was arrested, Peter became afraid. That's when he denied that he knew Jesus three times. But Peter was very sorry for what he had done, and Jesus forgave him. After his resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" "Lord", Peter answered, "you kow all things. You know that I love you." Peter was right, Jesus really did know! Jesus said kindly, "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep." Jesus was telling Peter to take care of his Church because he would be ascending into heaven. Jesus made Peter the leader of his followers.
Peter eventually went to live in Rome. Rome was the center of the whole world at that time. Peter converted many nonbelievers there. When the fierce persection of Christians began, they begged Peter to leave Rome and save himself. Soon after Peter returned to Rome he was taken prisoner and condemned to death. Because he was not a Roman citizen, he, like Jesus, could be crucified. This time he did not deny the Lord. This time he was ready to die for him. Peter asked to be crucified with his dead downward since he was not worthy to suffer as Jesus had. The Roman soldiers did not find this unusual because slaves were frequently crucified in the same manner.
St Peter was martyred and buried on Vatican Hill around the year 67. Emperor Constantine built a large church over that holy spot in the fourth century. Today the beautiful church called St. Peter's Basilica stands there.
February 22 is the celebrated the feast day, The Chair of St. Peter.
We can learn from St. Peter that when we make Jesus the center of our hearts and lives everything else will work out. Our sins and failings will never keep Jesus from loving and forgiving us.