The meaning of the celebration
+ Today’s feast, an ancient celebration of the authority entrusted to Saint Peter and his successors, highlights the reality of Peter’s special role in the life of the Church.
+ The Gospel for this feast recounts the confession of Simon that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God (see Matthew 16:13-19). In response to this statement of faith, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, signifying his new mission and identity: Peter becomes the “Rock” on which the Church is built and the powers of evil and death will never be able to conquer it.
Today the Church remembers Saint Margaret of Cortona. Rejected by her stepmother, Margaret became the mistress of a young nobleman and bore him a son. After his murder in 1274, she publicly confessed the affair and, although she was rejected by her family, she and her son received shelter from a local community of Franciscan friars. In time, Margaret received a charter to work with the poor and helped to establish a community of Franciscan tertiaries. Although she was honored for her love and care for the poor, her personal history plagued her throughout her life. Her holiness was proven by many miracles after her death in 1297 and she was canonized in 1728. Saint Margaret of Cortona is honored as the patron of those experiencing sexual temptation, of the homeless, of those ridiculed for their piety, and those suffering mental and emotional distress.
“Sometimes I wonder if Jesus chose Peter not despite his imperfections but because of them. Peter’s knowledge of his own limits led him to understand his reliance on God. It also enabled him to appreciate the love that Jesus had for him, as well as to celebrate the fact that God can work through anyone, no matter how human. And that’s not such a bad message to carry to the ends of the earth.”—James Martin, SJ, My Life With the Saints
Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the Living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here