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  • Writer's pictureRevShirleyMurphy

June 29th - Feast of St Peter & St Paul

Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day is observed every year on June 29. The event is the liturgical feast day that honours two martyrs of the Christian faith, St. Peter, and St. Paul. Although the church acknowledges they may not have been executed at the same time, both met death at the command of the Roman emperor — Nero. The date chosen is the traditional anniversary of their death and martyrdom.

The event is a significant religious occasion in Rome, and the catholic church in England commemorates it with a festival. Parishes around the world hold masses to commemorate the day. 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.

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 images on the walls date back to the fourth century A.D. The holiday is dedicated to two saints in the Christian belief.

Peter was the head of the apostles and the first pope. Paul, formerly called Saul, was a persecutor of the Christian faith but 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. This event was thought to have occurred between 64 and 68 A.D.

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. St Peter was crucified head down because he did not believe he was worthy of being crucified alongside Jesus. The cause of Paul’s death was unknown, but it was widely assumed that he was decapitated in Rome.

In Rome, Ticino, Switzerland, and Malta, Saint Peter and Saint Paul Day is a public holiday. The Latin Church, England, Scotland, and Wales observe it as a holy day of obligation, while the United States and Canada do not.

On June 29, Christians in coastal and island communities adorn their boats and docks to honor St. Peter, who was the patron saint of fishermen.

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