By Anonymous (Roman School) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Anonymous (Roman School) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul honors those who are considered architects of the papacy through their preaching, ministry, and martyrdom. It is celebrated on June 29 each year.

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 in charge of the church after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as illustrated by The Acts of Apostles. He spent his last years in Rome where he was martyred in the year 64. He claimed that he was not worthy to die as Christ and therefore requested for an inverted crucifixion. St. Peter's Basilica was built on top of his tomb on the Vatican Hill.

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. He is credited as the author of 13 books of the New Testament though scholars claim that six of his books were written by his followers writing under his name. He was imprisoned and taken back to Rome in the year 67 where he was beheaded.

The feast is celebrated by Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics. For Orthodox Catholics, the feast marks the end of the Apostles feast which is believed to start on the second Monday after Pentecost. An Orthodox Catholic is expected to either attend an all-night vigil or at least a service of evening prayer on the day before the feast. On the day of the feast, one is supposed to attend Divine Liturgy. For the Roman Catholics, the celebration of Saints Peter and Paul is considered a solemnity (festive day of the highest rank in a church calendar). It is considered as a Holy day of obligation in the Latin Church and some countries such as England, Scotland, and Wales. In Malta, it is a public holiday known as L-Imnarja.

In recent times the feast and that of Saint Andrew has been used as an opportunity for the Pope (Roman Catholic) and the Patriarch of Constantinople (Orthodox Catholic) to officiate the service together as an effort to bring the two churches together.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter