The POPE Encyclopedia

by Matthew Bunson

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The first pope, the Prince of the Apostles, founder  of  the
see  of  Rome,  and the disciple of Jesus chosen to serve as
Vicar of Christ, the Rock upon whom Christ built the Church.
Peter  is  a figure of such importance in the history of the
Church and the establishing of the papacy that it is  easily
forgotten  that  he  lived as a simple fisherman for much of
his life with his brother  Andrew  in  the  small  community
where he was born, Bethsaida, near Lake Tiberias in Galilee.
Throughout  the  accounts  in the Gospel and the Acts of the
Apostles,  Peter  appears  as  a  fiery,  strong,  and  even
hotheaded  individual.  His call by Christ to be a disciple,
as reported in the Gospel  according  to  Luke,  came  about
after he caught a miraculous amount of fish, so many that he
collapsed at the knees of Christ, to  which  Jesus  replied:
"Do  not  be afraid; henceforth you shall be catching men.''
Simon (as he was originally known)  was  forever  after  the
leading  disciple,  receiving  from Christ the important new
name  of  Cephas,  meaning  "rock.''  In  Greek   this   was
translated  as  Petros,  from which Peter is derived. Christ
also gave to Peter the so-called Power of the Keys after the
disciple  proclaimed, "You are Christ, the Son of the living
God.'' One of the inner  circle  of  Christ  with  John  and
James,  Peter  was  involved  in  virtually all of the major
events in the years of Christ's ministry. He also was  quite
prominent  in the Passion accounts. For example, when Christ
was arrested, he lopped off the right ear of  a  servant  of
the  high priest, and that same night he denied Christ three
times, as the Master had predicted. After the  Resurrection,
however, he was unquestionably the foremost of the Apostles,
performing miracles, the first of Christ's followers  to  do
so;  his  powers  were so formidable as a healer that he was
able to restore the sick with his shadow.
In the years that followed, Peter was the unquestioned  head
of  the  fledgling Church, traveling extensively across much
of the Roman world. It was inevitable, then, that he  should
come  to  Rome,  noting  in  his  first  Epistle that he was
writing from Babylon, the name customarily  used  for  Rome.
While  his activities are quite obscure, it is clear that he
was put to death in the Eternal City during the  persecution
launched by Emperor Nero around 64. As founder of the see of
Rome, Peter was naturally singled out for arrest, reportedly
begging the Romans to crucify him upside down because he was
unworthy of dying in the same manner as his Master.
His work in Rome was recognized even in the Early Church  as
establishing  a  religious primacy, with the Petrine See (as
the diocese of  Rome  is  called)  enjoying  a  position  of
primacy  over  the  Universal  Church. Peter's successors as
Bishops of Rome thus were holders of the same  authority  as
Peter  himself,  a central pillar of their claims to primacy
over the entire Church. His symbols are  the  crossed  keys,
for the Keys of the Kingdom; a cock for the triple denial of
Christ (the cock crowed after his  denials);  and  the  boat
(hence the term Barque of Peter). Successor: St. Linus. (See
also Holy See; box, Martyred  Pontiffs,  page  236;  Petes's
Chains,  Feast  of,  Primacy of the Pope; Rome; Saint Peter;
Basilica of; and Tomb of Peter.)

(sebelum, sesudah)

Published by Crown Trade Paperbacks
201 East 50th Street, New York
New York 10022, USA
ISBN 0-517-88256-6

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