Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Simon Says "Remember the Little Woman"

In today's lectionary readings from Luke 4:38-44 we read about the
healings at Simon’s house:
"After leaving the synagogue he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them."

The untold story of Simon Peter's wife is left to our imagination, although there is at least one legend written by Clement of Alexandria. This is hinted at in the Catholic Encyclopedia

"Simon settled in Capharnaum, where he was living with his mother-in-law in his own house (Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38) at the beginning of Christ's public ministry (about A.D. 26-28). Simon was thus married, and, according to Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, III, vi, ed. Dindorf, II, 276), had children. The same writer relates the tradition that Peter's wife suffered martyrdom (ibid., VII, xi ed. cit., III, 306). Concerning these facts, adopted by Eusebius (Church History III.31) from Clement, the ancient Christian literature which has come down to us is silent. Simon pursued in Capharnaum the profitable occupation of fisherman in Lake Genesareth, possessing his own boat (Luke 5:3).

Concerning the manner of Peter's death, we possess a tradition — attested to by Tertullian at the end of the second century (see above) and by Origen (in Eusebius, Church History II.1)—that he suffered crucifixion. Origen says: 'Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downwards, as he himself had desired to suffer'."

I have not been able to find in Clement's Stromata the legend of Peter's wife's martyrdom although the Catholic Encyclopedia references it. This may be because I speed read through the Stromata and I may have missed it, but here is what was posted at Bible Path
"Concerning the last hours of his life, it is said that when Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, 'O thou, remember the Lord.'"

We can only imagine her life with the Apostle, and I will not speculate as to any possibilities of what that life was like, but as with many of the untold stories of the Bible, she should be remembered as a real person.

"For all who have died in the communion of your Church, and those whose faith is known to you alone, that, with all the saints, they may rest in that place where there is no pain or grief, but life eternal, we pray to you, O Lord.

Lord, hear our prayer."

Litany for Ordinations p 550 BCP


  1. Peter's wife would be a good topic for a fictional biography. I'll get on that in my free time.

    OT: Reading about the Sea of Galilee brought to mind a trip I made to Israel in 1980 where I putzed around for a few weeks on my own. Midway through, I had occasion to stay in Tiberius, a town on the west shore of the lake. I was in an hotel and woke up every morning to the sun rising over the Golan Heights. Very cool.


  2. I am sure you have some old photos that you can scan in to help flesh out that story some more!