Peter and Paul
On June 29th of the Church calendar we celebrate the festival (or feast) of
St. Peter and St. Paul. While they each also have their own festival day (Peter on January 18th and Paul on January 25th), this joint celebration on is most likely the most ancient observance of a saint’s day, beginning in the third century. According to early tradition, Peter and Paul were both martyred together in Rome on June 29th while the Church was persecuted by Nero. Peter protested against being crucified because he did not deem himself worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus, and tradition holds that the Romans obliged by crucifying him upside down. Paul, as a Roman citizen, could not legally be crucified, so instead he was beheaded.
Peter and Paul were two pillars in the New Testament church. While the New Testament shares some of their faults and failures, it also records their prominent leadership in the early church. Peter primarily preached to the Jews, and Paul primarily to the Gentiles, so with the two together, we see the mission of the Church in spreading the Gospel to both Jews and Gentiles alike. In spite of persecution and the threat of death, Peter and Paul boldly proclaimed the forgiveness and salvation God provides through the death and resurrection of Jesus.