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Popes through history
Click on the names below to read about some celebrated figures in papal history BACK NEXT

St Peter - the first pope (died c.64)

The papacy began with Simon Peter, the fisherman from Galilee who became one of the first disciples.

Jesus told him: "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church."

The disciple was told that by becoming the shepherd of the flock, he was being given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

The image of the keys remains a powerful symbol of the papacy.

Peter spent his final years in Rome, becoming a victim of the Emperor Nero's persecution.

It is thought that like Christ, he was crucified. By tradition, no newly-elected pope ever takes the name of Peter.


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