The crucifixion of Peter

I’ve been mulling over the meaning of home this week.

God’s already impressed on me that home is wherever He is, but now I get the sense He’s urging me to take the long view.

Yesterday, my mind flashed back to the summer of 2001, to an old church on the outskirts of Rome. My aunt and I went to Italy the summer after my first year of teaching. I spent an entire paycheck on that trip, but it was worth every penny.

From the moment our plane touched down in Rome, I could tell why it’s called the eternal city. The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, bathed in a golden glow at sunrise, is one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve witnessed.

My aunt is the adventurous type and we stopped at every famous spot in the city – the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona. We also visited a few lesser-known gems, among them the church of Santa Maria del Popolo. It was there, in the Capella Cerasi that I first saw Caravaggio’s Crucifixion of Saint Peter.

Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio

Peter was a man well acquainted with failure. But in this, his final act, he wanted to honor the One who had redeemed him.

So he asked to be crucified upside down. Not to draw attention, but because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus.

Standing there, studying Caravaggio’s painting, I wondered how Peter could bring himself to make such a request. Dying is bad enough. But dying upside down on a cross? It seems like madness to even suggest it.

But Peter had something I’m still working on. He had an eternal perspective. Yes, his death was awful. Yes, I’m sure it was beyond painful. But it was temporary. When it was all said and done, he knew he was going home. Back to the One who created him, chose him, and called him by name.

As long as we’re on this earth, we’re still sojourners, too. Home, true home, waits.

Let’s talk: Has God been impressing anything on your heart lately?




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One Response to The crucifixion of Peter

  1. Pingback: Always love | Sara Suderman

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