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The Feast of St. Peter and Paul

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul or Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a liturgical feast in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient Christian origin.


St. Peter and Paul are considered cornerstones of the Church. St. Peter was one of the 12 apostles, as well as the first pope and founder of the Roman Church. Saint Peter made his living as a fisherman who went by the name Simon. When Jesus appointed him as one of his apostles, he called him Cephas which means rock. Saint Peter was the first of the apostles to recognize Christ as "The Messiah, The Son of The Living God."He was martyred sometime around AD 64 in the circus of Nero. Since he was not a Roman citizen his death was crucifixion.

According to tradition, he requested to be crucified upside down because he did not consider himself worthy to die in the same way as Jesus. He was buried in the Vatican Necropolis which was next to the Circus.



When the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, he decided to build a church in the saint’s honor above his grave. We all know this church today as St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City.


 

St. Paul was an apostle, responsible for much of the New Testament. Although he never met Jesus, he is widely acclaimed as one of the most important apostles who spread the word of Jesus and the nascent Christianity. Saint Paul was also known as the Apostle of Gentiles. Before his transformation to Paul, he was named Saul. A Jewish Pharisee who persecuted Christians and was believed to have attended the martyrdom of Stephen. He was headed to Damascus to persecute Christian followers there when he lost his sight. He had a conversation with Jesus before continuing on his way. Upon arriving in Damascus, his sight was restored and he was baptized. He was christened Paul and used his time on earth spreading the Gospel.

During Nero’s persecution of the Christians, Paul was martyred as well. Since he was a Roman citizen his death was the more lenient beheading. According to tradition, his head bounced three times, creating a spring of water with each bounce. Today you can still visit a monastery and drink the water from these springs!



Why do St. Peter and Paul share a Feast day? St. Peter and Paul's day is the feast day that honors the martyrdom of the two saints, sometime between AD 64 and 68. While the church recognizes that they may not have died on the same day, tradition says that this is the day that they were both martyred in Rome by Emperor Nero.

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