St Peter was the leader of the twelve Apostles, the followers that were closest to Jesus. He plays an important part in the events related in the New Testament and went on to found the first Christian community in Rome.
Christ described Peter as the rock on which he would build the church and promised him the keys of heaven. Keys are therefore St Peter's main symbol.
Peter was crucified upside down as he said he was not worthy to be crucified in the same way as Christ.
- Stained glass window
showing St Peter with a key
- France, about 1280
- Museum no. C.727-1909
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; what you forbid on earth shall be forbidden in heaven, and what you allow on earth shall be allowed in heaven.