St. Peter was the foremost leader of the Twelve Apostles of Christ, and with St. Paul, greatly moved the early Church from a small Galilean sect of Judaism to its worldwide mission. St. Peter was at first Simon, but Christ changed his name to Cephas, which is “kefa” of Aramaic origin, meaning a “rock,” or “stone.” Christ, by this, refers to the rock of Peter’s confession that He is the Son of God, revealed to St. Peter directly by God the Father.
St. Peter with SS James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were witnesses of many special revelations and experiences with their Teacher Christ. They were with Him at the Transfiguration, apart with Him at Gethsemane, with Him when He raised up Jairus’ daughter, and saw and heard what many prophets had yearned to hear before them. St. Peter walked on water to come to Christ, but wavered and was saved by Him. Eloquent in his preaching of faith, St. Peter drew many to Christ at Pentecost and beyond. He was a martyr in Rome, dying upside down on a cross in a.d. 64. In this famous 5th to 6th century encaustic (wax pigmented) icon of St. Peter, he is holding his cross and the keys to the Kingdom of God.