Galli-cantu means cock-crow in Latin and today a golden rooster protrudes prominently from the church roof.
St. Peter’s belongs to the Assumptionist Fathers, which is a French order established in 1887 and named for Mary’s Assumption to heaven. The Order has its headquarters in Jerusalem’s monumental Notre Dame de France complex, built in 1889.
The Assumptionist Fathers constructed this church, pleasantly modern in appearance, in the 1930’s. Beneath the church are a series of rock-cut structures, cellars, cisterns, stables dating to the Herodian period (37BCE-70CE). In the courtyard are the remnants of a Byzantine stepped street, which leads to the Pool of Silwan. There are several ancient structures, like olive presses, a bath house and caves.
Some Christians venerate the site of the house of the high priest Caiaphas to which Jesus was taken after his arrest (Mark 14:53) and where Peter denied him (Mark 14:66-72), even if no support for this belief has been found by archaeological explorations, which, however, have revealed the remains of an ancient Byzantine basilica. The curious name of the church recalls the denial of Peter, as recounted in the Gospels: ”Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew, 26:74-75).
Some believe that it is much more likely that the house of the high priest was at the top of the hill; luxurious houses of the Herodian period have been found in the Armenian property where another house of Caiaphas is exhibited.