Simon Peter was a native of Bethsaida, near Lake Tiberias, the son of John, and worked, like his brother St. Andrew, as a fisherman on Lake Genesareth. Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus and Jesus called Peter to follow him as a disciple.
Jesus also gave Simon a new name: Cephas, or 'Rock'.
Jesus said "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church" “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”.
Peter was always listed as the first of the Apostles in all of the New Testament accounts and was a special friend of Jesus, with James and John. He is recorded more than any other disciple, and was at Jesus’ side at the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the Agony of the Garden of Gethsemane.
After the Resurrection, Peter went to the tomb with the “other disciple” after being told what had happened by the women. The first appearance of the Risen Christ was before Peter, and when Jesus appeared before the disciples at Tiberias, he gave to Peter the famous command to “Feed my lambs.... Tend my sheep.... Feed my sheep”.
In the time immediately after the Ascension, Peter stood as the unquestionable leader of the Apostles. He appointed a replacement for Judas Iscariot and he spoke first to the crowds that had assembled after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost
He baptized the Roman pagan Cornelius, and at the Council of Jerusalem he gave his support to preaching to Gentiles, thereby permitting the new Church to become universal.
Imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa, he was aided in an escape by an angel. He then resumed his apostolate in Jerusalem and his missionary efforts included travels to such cities of the pagan world as Antioch, Corinth, and eventually Rome.
It is certain that Peter died in Rome and that his martyrdom came during the reign of Emperor Nero, probably in AD 64. 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 on Vatican Hill, and excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica have unearthed his probable tomb. His relics are now enshrined under the high altar of St. Peter’s.
From the earliest days of the Church, Peter was recognized as the Prince of the Apostles and the first Supreme Pontiff; his see, Rome, has thus enjoyed the position of primacy over the entire Catholic Church. While Peter’s main feast day is June 29, he is also honored on February 22 and November 18.
In liturgical art, Saint Peter is depicted as an elderly man holding a key and a book. His symbols include an inverted cross, a boat, and a cockerel.