The liturgical cult of Peter, key apostle and one of the most prominent saints on the Latin calendar, is a complex development due to the multiple feasts that came into existence in the earliest centuries of Christianity, the many regions in which these feasts were celebrated in different ways, and, not in the least, the plurality of sources that inspired and influenced the liturgical material of prayers and chants. The aim of this study is to analyse the main Latin liturgical traditions around Peter as they originated in late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. A special focus will be on the sources that were used to give expression to Peter’s key role in the foundation of the Church in Rome and the West. From a fisherman with origins in the Galilean hinterland to the founding saint of the Latin Church firmly seated in the urban setting of Rome itself is a long way. To establish this transition the liturgical composition of Peter’s cult could not rely on biblical sources alone. A variety of sources and themes inspired the portrait of Peter as Rome’s patron saint. Together with Paul, Peter represented the Christian answer to Rome’s veneration of its traditional founders, Romulus and Remus. Together with the other apostles, Peter represented the source from which the Gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire.
The apostle Peter is the most important saint associated with the city of Rome and provides an interesting frame of reference to articulate ideas, values and political goals of that time. This paper explores how Peter is associated with ecclesiastical architecture in Rome and the suburbs of Rome, through processes of appropriation between the 3rd and 6th centuries. This development, far from being linear, is closely linked to the principle of anchoring innovation. The traceable development illustrates how Peter himself became an anchor to introduce numerous innovations in various situations. The focus of this paper is to verify the concepts of anchoring and appropriation through the lens of architecture, mainly using the examples of Old St Peter’s in the Vatican and the Basilica Apostolorum, now known as San Sebastiano fuori le mura.
Second-century Christianity singled out Peter in order to identify itself with the apostolic gospel tradition in the face of perceived, and intermittently real, hostility from Romans and Jews. The apocryphal Gospel and Acts of Peter exemplify a tendency to seek analogies with the apostolic generation’s protagonists to make sense of present experiences such enmity. These texts do mobilize Peter in the service of a process of legitimation, but this is the legitimation not of institutional power but of a community – a minority experiencing at least perceived harassment and, at certain times and places, acute existential danger. Concern about power exists, too, but for these early writings this consistently privileges the superior power of God and of Jesus over human or demonic agents. Some such texts did in time come to tolerate a different narrative of inevitable Petrine triumph and the acquisition of papal power – though only ex post facto and in light of the Constantinian turn.
Jews and Christians under the Roman Empire shared a unique sense of community. Set apart from their civic and cultic surroundings, both groups resisted complete assimilation into the dominant political and social structures. However, Jewish communities differed from their Christian counterparts in their overall patterns of response to the surrounding challenges. They exhibit diverse levels of integration into the civic fabric of the cities of the Empire and display contrary attitudes towards the creation of trans-local communal networks. The variety of local case studies examined in this volume offers an integrated image of the multiple factors, both internal and external, which determined the role of communal identity in creating a sense of belonging among Jews and Christians under Imperial constraints.