Peter was a simple fisherman in Galilee when Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people" (Matthew 4:19). He walked close by Jesus' side throughout Christ's ministry and was a leader among the disciples. His name was Simon before Jesus called him Cephas, meaning "Rock," (Peter in Greek). "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."
Peter gives us some of the most human moments in the New Testament. He is unafraid to express his questions and fears; he often puts his foot in his mouth. Although he proclaims, "I will lay down my life for you" at the Last Supper, Jesus correctly predicts that the next day Peter will deny his Lord three times before the cock crows. After the resurrection, Jesus returns to ask Peter "Do you love me?" three times to give Peter the chance to declare his loyalty.
After Jesus' death and resurrection, Peter served as a leader in the early church. He preached, healed, was arrested and imprisoned for his faith, and expanded ministry to Gentiles (non-Jews).
Tradition says Peter served as Rome's first bishop, and during Nero's reign, was crucified around 64 A.D.
Image is detail of St. Peter icon, compliments of St. Isaac of Syria Skete, www.skete.com.