How Did the Apostle Peter Die?

The apostle Peter died by crucifixion on Vatican Hill in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. According to legend, he asked to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified as Jesus had been. The spot where Peter died and was buried was later the site of St. Peter’s basilica.

Many people claimed to be in possession of relics of the saint. A 1950 excavation discovered bones under the altar of St. Peter, and many believed they were the bones of the saint himself. When the bones were re-examined 1968, they were found to be those of a human male. This discovery caused Pope Paul VI to say the bones probably belonged to St. Peter. In 2013, Pope Francis unveiled some of these bone fragments during a Mass he presided over in St. Peter’s Square.

Peter was born Simon, son of Jonah, and lived in Bethsaida, a town in Israel. He and his brother Andrew were fishermen, and they met Jesus while fishing on Lake Genesareth. After a frustrating night with little catch, Jesus told them to return to the deep water and cast their nets again. Peter was skeptical, but obeyed. He and Andrew caught so many fish that their nets were in danger of tearing. After this miracle, the brothers became disciples of Jesus.