The primary reason why some dispute St. Peter was in Rome is because they want to take St. Peter out of the authority of the Catholic Church.
With St. Peter out of the way that would open the door to them to reject the Catholic Faith.
This is pure and simple. I find it interesting that they will call the Catholic Church the “Whore of Babylon” because they believe that the Church was founded in Rome by Constantine.
Yet, when you share with them that St. Peter was in Rome based on the premise that he was in “Babylon”, they can’t accept that. 1 Peter 5:12-13 states, “I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son”.
BTW, St. Mark’s Gospel entered the New Testament canon through the authority of St. Peter. St. Luke’s Gospel was recognized through the authority of St. Paul. Babylon was a code name for Rome.
Following St. Peter during the early years after the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus we know that he was present at Pentecost. He gives the first Papal dissertation in Acts 2:14-41 when 3,000 people were baptized the first day.
A short time later, St. Peter gave a second speech at the portico called “Solomon’s Portico”. St. Peter and John were taken from there to the Sanhedrin where the Pharisees wanted to punish them but feared the people who were praising God (Acts 4:21).
We know that St. Peter was still in the Holy Land when persecution broke out against the Christians.
After St. Stephen was stoned to death, people went everywhere to escape Saul of Tarsus. Everyone except the Apostles. St. Peter gives a third speech and Baptized Cornelius near Caesarea.
St. Peter received a vision and message from an angel while in Joppa when three men came to see him to take him to Cornelius.
This would be very important for the early Church as God reveals to St. Peter his plan of salvation for the Gentiles.
St. Peter begins to speak when the Holy Spirit came upon the house of Cornelius.
St. Peter ensures the baptism of the entire household (Acts 10:9-48).
This would become important for the early Church and infant baptism.
King Herod captures St. Peter and puts him in prison, but God had other plans for St. Peter getting him away from the clutches of Herod (Acts 12:1-17).
We know that St. Peter was in Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem (49 A.D.), “After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, ‘My brothers, you are well aware that from the early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness by granting them the Holy Spirit just as he did us. He made no distinction between us and them, for by faith he purified their hearts”.
After this scene, we do not see much of St. Peter in Jerusalem. This is the last time we see St. Peter in the book of Acts. St. Paul becomes the dominate figure from this point on.
So where does St. Peter Go? Does he ride his donkey into the sunset into retired life? No, not at all!
According to Tradition, St. Peter went to Antioch and ordained St. Evodius a bishop.
St. Peter appears to have gone immediately to Antioch after being released from jail by the angel. St. Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of the Apostle John, who died around AD 100 AD.
St. John Chrysostom (c. 347 – 407 AD), grew up in Antioch, learned the history which taught that St. Ignatius had been ordained at the hands of Apostles, including St. Peter.
According to ancient tradition, St. Ignatius was the child whom Christ had held, as described in Matthew 18:4. It is also from here that St. John Chrysostom learned the history and tradition that Christ was born on December 25th, 2 B.C.
St. John Chrysostom would preach on the subject literally on Christmas day. It is important to understand from this tradition, St. Peter was in Antioch at one point. What about St. Peter in Rome?
Writing in his Annals circa A.D. 116, Tacitus a Pagan Historian, describes the response of Emperor Nero to the great fire that swept Rome in A.D. 64:
“But not all the relief that could come from man, not all the bounties that the prince could bestow, nor all the atonements which could be presented to the gods, availed to relieve Nero from the infamy of being believed to have ordered the conflagration, the fire of Rome. Hence to suppress the rumor, he falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”
Suetonius, another Pagan historian also confirms Nero’s persecution of Christians at Rome (c. 120 A.D.):
“Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to
a new and mischievous superstition.” (Lives of the Caesars 26.2)
One of the Early Church Fathers who heard from St. Peter personally, was ordained by St. Peter would become the third successor to St. Peter. St. Clement of Rome about 95 A.D. wrote:
“Let us come to the heroes nearest to our times. . . . Let us set before our eyes the good apostles; Peter, who by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured not one or two but many labours, and having thus borne his witness went to his due place of glory. Paul, by reason of jealousy and strife, pointed out the prize of endurance. . . . When he had preached in the East and in the West he received the noble renown of his faith. Having taught righteousness to the whole world, even reaching the bounds of the West, and having borne witness before rulers, he thus left the world and went to the holy place, becoming the greatest pattern of endurance.”
St. Clement writes of Peter
‘s stay in Rome
, “I do not command you, as Peter and Paul did”.
Ignatius of Antioch wrote:
“Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict” (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 110]). Such a comment would only make sense if Peter had been a leader, if not the leader, of the church in Rome.
Later in the second century, Irenaeus of Lyons believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop.
Tertullian also writes: “But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too. What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John (the Baptist, by being beheaded).”
St. Dionysius of Corinth also serves as a late second-century witness to the tradition. He wrote: “You (Pope Soter) have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time”.
Later tradition, first found in Saint Jerome, attributes to Peter a 25-year episcopate (or apostolate) in Rome.
St. Peter’s crucifixion in Rome is the only recorded traditional account of St. Peters death. John 21:18 states, ” Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God”.It is interesting to note that there are no viable examples or traditions of St. Peter having this experience anywhere else.
The grave that is claimed by the Church to be that of St. Peter lies at the foot of the aedicula beneath the floor under the main Altar. DNA testing reveals that the bones found were the bones of a 60-70 year old man.
On June 26, 1968, Pope Paul VI announced that the relics of St. Peter had been discovered. The evidence through scientific analysis found St. Peters name more than 20 times at the site, the bones had a purple and gold fabric.
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