The Institute for Christian Formation
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
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On June 29 each year we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. A solemnity is the highest ranking feast day on our Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar. These first century men were leaders of our Church. Saint Peter, known as the “Prince of the Apostles” was one of the original twelve apostles chosen by Jesus, and we also celebrate him as our first pope. Saint Paul never met Jesus prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection, but had a conversion experience with the risen Christ which was the basis of Paul’s conversion from a persecutor of Christians to the “Apostle to the Gentiles.”
The importance of the Apostles to the early Church was evident from the very beginning. Ephesians 2:19-20 talks about the Church (the household of God) being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Revelation 21:14 references the new heavenly city of Jerusalem which has twelve “courses of stones” on which are inscribed the names of the twelve apostles.
Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Bulgarian, 1684)
Annex for Old Bulgarian Art, National Art Museum, Sophia
Pope Innocent III wearing a Y-shaped Pallium
unknown artist, 1219
In addition to the June 29 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle on January 25, and the Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle on February 22. Visit our web page for each of these feasts for much more information about each of these saints, as well as information on these feast days and links and downloads for both adults and children! And the video below is a wonderful reflection on Saint Peter from "Who Cares About the Saints?" by Father James Martin, S.J.
Saints Peter and Paul were both martyred in Rome under Nero in the first century. Tradition says that Saint Peter was put to death by crucifixion, probably around the year 64. It is said he was crucified upside down, as he did not deem himself worthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus. Saint Paul, as a Roman citizen, could not be crucified. So, according to tradition, he was beheaded, probably around the year 67. Saints Peter and Paul were already being remembered together on June 29 in the third century. The “Despositio Martyrium,” circa 258, lists this solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.
Wonderful artwork of Saint Peter and Saint Paul can be found in the Pauline Chapel. This is the Papal Chapel which is dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. You can read the history of this chapel, view the artwork, and even take a virtual tour here. Celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul in your home and neighborhood, as well! Do you own a boat? If so, decorate it and bless it on this feast day. Make your favorite fish recipe for dinner. Before dinner, share the readings for this feast day and share what they mean to you today.
Here are some suggestions if you will be celebrating this feast day with children at home or at church:
•Saint Peter is the patron saint of fisherman and in many places boats are blessed on this feast day, and Saint Paul sailed by ship on various missionary journeys. Celebrate the June 29 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul with children by making a Sailboat Cake! Here is an easy recipe from Betty Crocker. Saints Peter and Paul are the principal patrons of the city of Rome. Each year on June 29 the Pope celebrates Mass, during which he blesses the pallium. All those who have been appointed archbishops during the year travel to the Vatican for this Mass. They will then receive the pallia, a liturgical vestment, at a later date when it will be placed on the Metropolitan Archbishop in his own diocese, by the Pope’s representative, the Apostolic Nuncio. Each year on Saint Agnes’ January 21st Feast Day the Pope blesses two lambs. The wool from these lambs is used to make the pallia. Once woven, the pallia are then placed in an urn at the Tomb of Saint Peter, until they are blessed by the Pope at the June 29th Mass. The pallia
Saint Paul is the patron saint of Malta and Greece, as well as the lay apostolate, the Cursillo Movement, and Catholic Action.
Saint Peter was a fisherman and is the patron saint of all those involved in the fishing industry. So, as might be expected, many places around the globe celebrate the June 29th Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul with a blessing of boats and/or fishing fleets and those who make their living in the fishing industry. You can read about celebrations in Vietnam, Gloucester, and other locales.
•If you don’t want to bake a cake, why not bake some sailboat cookies? You can find sailboat cookie cutters at most kitchen supply stores as well as online. If you really want to get creative, write a Scripture citation which pertains to Saint Peter or Saint Paul (book, chapter and verse) on each cookie, and have children look up the passage prior to eating the cookie!
•You can also create your own version of a Saints Peter and Paul “Go Fish” game. Just use construction paper or colored cardstock and cut out 52 fish shapes. Rather than a card ranking (i.e., 4 or 7, or ace or jack), replace these with something that pertains to Saint Peter or Saint Paul (i.e., Road to Damascus, Rock, Pope, Epistle, etc.)
•And here is a link to an online coloring page for an icon of Saints Peter and Paul. Please note that the online painting feature does not work with Internet Explorer, so another browser must be used to engage this feature. Don’t forget to visit our other web pages on Saint Peter and Saint Paul for much more information and many more resources!
symbolize the unity of the Archbishops with the Pope and Rome, as well as symbolizing that the Archbishops are the shepherds of their flocks.
Click on the image above to download our ICF resource on Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles