The Festival of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles
Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture Readings for the Day:
Acts 15:1–12 (13–21)
Psalm 46 (antiphon: v. 11)
The Confession of Saint Peter (“You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”) is commemorated on 18 January, and the Conversion of Saint Paul on his approach to Damascus a week later, on 25 January. On 29 June we commemorate the martyrdoms of both apostles. The date is the anniversary of a day around AD 258, under the Valerian persecution, when what were believed to be the remains of the two apostles were both moved temporarily to prevent them from falling into the hands of the persecutors. The Scriptures do not record the deaths of Peter or Paul, or indeed any of the Apostles’ deaths except for James the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:2), but they are clearly anticipated (see the readings below), and from an early date it has been said that they were martyred at Rome at the command of the Emperor Nero, and buried there. As a Roman citizen, St. Paul would probably have been beheaded with a sword. An early tradition claims that St. Peter was crucified head downward. The present Church of St. Peter in Rome replaces earlier churches built on the same site going back to the time of the Emperor Constantine, in whose reign a church was built on what was believed to be the burial site of Peter. Excavations under the church suggest that the belief that this is the true home of his burial predates Constantine. HT: Aardvark Alley.