By VH | ET Student
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” During my time in Rome I visited Vatican City which led me to Saint Peter’s Basilica. I had no intentions of seeing the Basilica because the point of Vatican City is to see the Sistine Chapel. While taking a day tour of Rome, my tour guide said to the group, “This is where Apostle Peter was hung upside down.” It was at this moment I was intoxicated with a desire to understand and know more about Apostle Peter. My interest quickly shifted from wanting to visit the Vatican Museum to needing to visit the Basilica. Before entering the Basilica there was a massive crowd waiting in line. This wait was an hour long, but it was worth it because it was the final resting place of Apostle Peter.
The Basilica was built in remembrance of Apostle Peter, the first Pope, because it is the location of where he was hung on an upside-down cross. Why was he hung upside down? Peter asked to be crucified this way as a martyr because he believed he was unworthy to be hung the same way Jesus was crucified. The Old St. Peter’s Basilica was built between 319 and 333 CE and is believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. After years of neglect towards the Basilica in the early 15th century, Pope Nicholas commissioned and re-designed the building, but died in the process. Pope Julius II continued to rebuild the Basilica, and with the help of people like Michelangelo and others the new Basilica was completed in 1629.
In Matthew 16:17-20, Jesus tells Peter he is the rock in which Jesus will build his church. Jesus goes on to say that he has given Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. This is a great example of just how much Jesus loves Peter. Peter, also known as Simon among the Apostles, has the largest mouth among the group. Jesus gives praise to Peter because he tells Jesus that he is the Christ, the son of the living God. Similarly, later in Matthew 16 Jesus says to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Not only is Peter the rock of the church, but he can also be the stumbling block of the church. No matter how great a man is, he is only a man at best. I find great courage in this because it shows that even Peter, a man that Jesus loves, can fail. It shows that we are human.