The Church honours the martyrdom of Saint Paul and Saint Peter in Rome with the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. This liturgical feast is celebrated on June 29 every year.
This feast celebration, also called the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, started a very long time ago and it is believed that that date may either be the date of death of either saint or the date when their relics were translated.
In the 4th century, St Augustine of Hippo said that although their martyrdom occurred on different days, they were one and so one day is assigned for the celebration of their martyrdom.
You may ask why there is no feast of St Peter or feast of St Paul. Other saints have their own feasts. But there there are separate feasts for the two famous apostles.
On January 25 we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, Apostle. Paul was not among the 12 apostles but he was commissioned independently by Jesus starting from when he was on the road to Damascus. This incident is well described in Acts of the Apostles: 9:1-31, 22:1-22, and 26:9-24.
St Peter had his human limitations but nonetheless, Jesus chose him to lead the early Church. These are some of the scriptures that testify to this;
Jesus asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”John 21:15-19
Jesus said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”Matthew 16:15-19
Several countries celebrate the feast of Saints Peter and Paul as a public holiday like in Rome. This is because St. Paul and St. Peter are the patron saints of Rome.
The faithful in these places also celebrate the solemnity as a public holiday.
- Canton of Ticino, Switzerland
- Swiss cantons of Lucerne and Graubünden
- Various municipalities of the Philippines
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