The Feast of St Peter and St Paul
Monday 29th June
What Do People Do?
Every year, Rome celebrates its patron saints Peter and Paul with various religious rituals led by the Catholic church’s pope. Other events include music entertainment, fireworks, and fairs.
The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul is a public holiday in Rome so many businesses and public offices are closed.
St Peter was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles and spent most of his life preaching the Christian gospel after Jesus’ death. He died by crucifixion around 67 CE and is regarded as the Catholic church’s first pope.
St Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus shortly after Jesus Christ’s death. He became an influential leader in the Christian church. He was beheaded around the year 67 CE during the Roman emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians.
On the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, the Catholic pope places the pallium (a type of woolen cloak) on archbishops that were appointed over the past year. It serves as a reminder of religious significance of the bishops’ work and symbolizes the unity of the church.
When is St. Peter and St. Paul Day?
This feast day is celebrated on June 29th. The day commemorates the martyrdom of two saints, the two great Apostles, Saint Peter and St. Paul, assigned by tradition to the same day of June in the year 67.
History of St. Peter and St. Paul Day
Peter was the leader of the apostles and the first pope. Paul who was born ‘Saul’ converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus.
They had been imprisoned in the infamous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. It is said that they were martyred at the command of Emperor Nero.
Even though they were killed on the same day, their method of execution would have differed.
Saint Peter was crucified, whereas Saint Paul would have been beheaded with a sword as he was a Roman citizen and afforded a quicker execution.
It is said of Peter that he was crucified head downward as he didn’t feel worthy of being crucified in the same way as Jesus.
On June 29th, coastal and island communities may decorate their boats and wharves to give praise to St. Peter, who was the patron saint of fishermen. St. Paul was known for his handcraft.
This is probably one of the oldest feast days celebrated in the Christian calendar. In 2010, images of Peter and Paul were found on the wall of catacombs dating back to the 4th Century AD.
The feast of St Peter and St Paul is known as a ‘Solemnity’. For Catholics, this means they can eat meat on the day, even if it falls on Friday when normally fish would be eaten.