St. Peter Banner

Symbolism and Meaning

Images of St. Peter first appeared in the early 3rd century in Roman catacombs and in paintings and frescoes in North Africa. From the beginning, images of St. Peter portray him as a middle aged, bearded, balding man with a rugged face. This consistency may have started with an early oral tradition of those who knew St. Peter in his later days.

The Keys to The Kingdom

In Peter's hands, he holds his primary symbol, the two golden keys. They recall Jesus' commission to Peter "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven..." (Matthew 1 6: 19). They represent his apostolic authority and all those who through the ages have shared his apostolic ministry.

The Church of Saint Peter

The image of our parish church cradled in St. Peter's arms symbolizes our parish's unity with St. Peter and the Communion of Saints. As St. Peter holds the parish in his arms, so he continues to uphold his people in his prayers and intercessions before the presence of God in heaven.

St. Peter's Robes

St. Peter is wearing the garments of Roman antiquity - a long tunic draped with a toga - the clothes biblical characters have been represented as wearing since the earliest Christian art. Uniquely, St. Peter has almost always been portrayed in vibrant orange-gold garments. This colour may be an allusion to Zechariah 13:7-9 where the prophet speaks of a shepherd who will be killed and whose sheep who will be persecuted. This shepherd's faith will be tested like gold in a furnace. The molten gold-orange robe represents the many trials by fire and tests of faith of this shepherd of Christ. His was a faithfulness that would ultimately lead him to die on an upside down cross in Rome in the year AD. 64.

Peter the Rock

Before our Patron Saint met Jesus, his name was Simon. Jesus re-named him and called him Peter, meaning "the rock" (Matthew 16: 18). Although Peter tended to act first and think later, Jesus knew that Peter's strength and faith would support him and his fledgling church through rough times. In our banner, Peter the Rock stands upon rock. This symbolizes that for all St. Peter's bold faith, he could not have done it without Jesus who was “the stone that was rejected... [but] has become the cornerstone." May we, with Peter the Rock, "Come to Him, a living stone... chosen and precious in God's sight and, like living stones, let ourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (Peter's First Letter 2:4-6)

Permission is granted to use and replicate this or parts of this article with the following ascription, "From an article by Dean Rose, St. Peter’s Church, Oshawa, Diocese of Toronto."

A Word from the Artist

My wife, Betty, and I spent the month of October in England. Before leaving, I met with Father Kevin, Marilyn Kellar and Dean Rose and was immediately fascinated with the idea of creating this banner. The committee had done their homework and I received a file of information and photos for inspiration. It worked - I was excited!

While in England, Betty and I visited many Suffolk churches and looked at every St. Peter we could find. As luck would have it, Vanners Silk Mill in Sudbury had a sale on ends of bolts and we bought fabrics for the banner. We had a wonderful holiday but I couldn't wait to get started.

There are over 60 pieces of fabric in the banner and 56 colours of thread. The head, hands, feet etc. were sewn separately using an embroidery hoop to stretch the fabric. The elements were then blended together using thread. While working on some commissions, it is just that - work. In this case, the sewing machine seemed to be doing it all. There was one glitch - the 31-year-old Viking needed a new motor so the 15-year-old machine was put into service. Things have a way of working out - is it Divine intervention?

Thank you so much for allowing me to create this banner for you.

Bill Fitches

January 18, 2004