Feast of St Peter and St Paul 2012


This Friday is the Feast of St Peter and St Paul 
                        Scripture readings for Vigil Mass and Mass of the Day are here

These two formidable saints were the two"pillars" on which the church of Rome was founded. They have other individual feast days in the year assigned to them so I have collated my various past posts here with some additional resources.

The date for their combined feast day is the anniversary of a day around 258 AD, 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.
Their deaths are not recorded in the Scriptures, but legend says that they both died near Rome within a few years of each other. The Basilica of St. Peter is built on the traditional site where Peter was crucified upside-down on the Vatican Hill, and the Basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls marks the traditional spot where Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded with a sword rather than crucified. As with the Nativity of John the Baptist, the importance of this solemnity is marked by an additional set of texts for a vigil Mass.
The present basilica 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 there on what was believed to be the burial site of Peter.

St. Augustine writes (Sermon 295):
"Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one.
Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood.
Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labours, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith."

Peter and Paul are the patron saints of the city of Rome, and this day is a special occasion as well as a public holiday  in Rome's Eternal City.

These colossal statues of St. Peter and Paul, were ordered by Pope Pius IX on Easter 1847 to replace existing smaller ones.

                                                                      Statue of St Paul from here

                                                                          St Peter from here

The day begins with a spectacular mass at St. Peter's Basilica which ends with the Pope kissing the feet of the medieval statue of St. Peter. 

When I visited St Peter's recently there was a constant procession of people inside moving slowly past. 

His left hand is holding the keys close to his chest and the right raised in the act of blessing.

The right foot of the sculpture protrudes slightly and it was moving to reflect that for hundreds of years, millions upon millions of  people have touched, or kissed that foot so that its toes have almost completely worn away so much so  that as one commentator has written they seem almost to have melted. 
It also reminded me of the Gospel parable today of the woman who strained to touch the hem of Christ's garment.

Image source

It also invites reflection on how in this ultra rational world we still crave spiritual insight into how profoundly faith works and how it influences our actions.

Information on St Peter from here
and St Paul from same source here

Previous post from last year is from here and from 2010 is here 

My previous post on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter earlier in the year is here.
with an interesting article called Crossing The Line by Keith Anderson which explains the differing views that Peter and Paul had in the early mission of the Christian church.

"They recognized – Peter and Paul, these two great leaders of the early church – that the church was bigger than the both of them, and big enough for them both. 
Both were called, and though they were very different, and ministered to different people of different lands and different customs, they recognized that their unity was in the Gospel."

My previous post on conversion of St Paul is from here 

Video on the life of St Paul from Ignatius Press below.

Video on the life of "St Peter - Keeper of the Keys" also from Ignatius Press is below

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