A Garner of Saints – Saint Peter the Apostle

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Peter the Apostle; 19th century by F X Zettler, Munich, Germany; parish church of Saint Alban, Gutenzell-Hürbel, Biberach, Germany; photographed in January 2015 by Andreas Praefcke; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

Not long after the Ascension, Peter was confronted by a celebrated sorcerer named Simon Magus, who pretended that he was a god. But when Peter answered all his arguments and exposed his evil practices, Simon threw his books into the sea for fear the apostle should make use of them, and went to Rome where he wished to pass as a god. On hearing this Peter followed him, arriving at Rome in the fourth year of Claudius, and he ultimately remained there for twenty-five years. Devoting himself to preaching, he converted many. And the Lord appeared to him saying that Simon and Nero were conspiring against him, and exhorting him to be of good courage, for the apostle Paul was to come to Rome on the following day. Paul arrived as it had been said, and the two apostles preached together. Meanwhile Simon had gained great credit with Nero, who believed him to be a son of a god, for he performed many wonderful things before him, and the Romans conceived such a veneration for him that they erected a statue to him. But Peter and Paul went to Nero and denounced his sorceries. Nero defended his favourite, but the apostles proposed that Simon should tell them what they were thinking of, and they whispered it in Nero’s ear. But Simon full of anger cried, “May dogs come and devour you.” When the dogs came Peter presented to them a loaf of barley bread which he had received from the Emperor, and immediately they took to flight. Simon, unabashed, pretended that he could raise the dead. Now it happened that a young man had died; accordingly Peter and Simon were sent for, it being decreed that whoever failed to raise him should suffer death. Simon began by muttering enchantments over the body and succeeded in making the head move, whereupon the bystanders wished to stone Peter; but he replied that it was necessary to make the dead man rise and speak, and standing over him he commanded him to rise in the name of Jesus Christ. Immediately the youth rose and walked, and, when the bystanders would have stoned Simon, Peter restrained them saying that the man was sufficiently punished already. Simon, far from being grateful, went to the house of Saint Marcel and tied a fierce dog at the door, waiting to see whether Peter could enter the house according to his custom. A moment later Peter arrived and making the sign of the cross he loosed the dog which flew at Simon, tore his garments and would have killed him, had not Peter called the dog away. Shamed by this defeat Simon remained hidden for a year. On his return he was received into favour by Nero, to whom he complained of the Galileans, saying that the earth was no longer worthy of him and that he would fly away. Mounting to the top of a high tower he threw himself off and began to fly about in the air. When Nero saw this he exclaimed against the apostles, saying that Simon was right when he accused them of being impostors. Upon this Peter commanded the angels of Satan, who were supporting Simon, to let him fall, and immediately he fell to the ground, breaking his head, so that he expired. Nero, however, was filled with wrath and delivered the apostles to the charge of Paulinus, who put them in the Mamertine prison under the care of two knights named Processus and Martianus. Here the apostles were detained for nine months, and converted fortynine knights who were detained there and whom they baptised. Processus and Martianus were also converted. At the end of the nine months the apostles were released, and Peter at the instance of many of the brethren left the city. When he reached the gate now called Saint Mary, leading to the Appian way, he saw Christ coming to meet him and he said, “Lord, whither goest thou?” Who answered, “I am going to Rome to be crucified afresh.” Then Peter said he would return to Rome to suffer with Him, and immediately the Lord departed. From this Peter understood that his martyrdom was determined, and he returned to Rome. He had hardly arrived and informed the brethren of his vision before he was seized by the satellites of Nero and sent before the governor Agrippa, and, as he went, his face shone like the sun. It was determined that Peter should be crucified, but that Paul, being a Roman citizen, should be beheaded. After they had been scourged, they gave one another the kiss of peace and were led away to execution. When Peter arrived at the cross he asked that he might be crucified with his head downwards, not deeming himself worthy to suffer in the same manner as his master. The people, filled with fury, wished to kill Nero and release Peter; but he restrained them, asking them not to prevent his martyrdom. And the Lord opened their eyes and they saw angels standing with crowns of roses and lilies, comforting the apostle. Peter also preached to the bystanders, and so expired. 29th June.

Attributes

  • The two keys of Heaven and Hell; sometimes a Fish.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Peter the Apostle”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2017. Web. 25 November 2017. <>