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The Patron Saints of the Eternal City: Saints Peter and Paul

The Patron Saints of the Eternal City: Saints Peter and Paul

The two apostolic founders of the church have a lot in common, starting with the joint feast, instituted in 258 ca. Furthermore, Saints Peter and Paul both presumably died in the same year, AD 67, as martyrs in the reign of the Roman Emperor Nero. While Peter is clearly described in the New Testament as the leader of the Apostles (he in fact became the first pope of the Christian Church after the Ascension of Jesus), Paul is considered to be one of the most important preachers of the Early Christianity. According to his own account, Paul persecuted Christians until resurrected Jesus appeared to him. Such vision caused him to embrace the only true religion and marked the beginning of his spiritual path as Christ’s disciple and preacher.

The festivity of Peter and Paul is especially heartfelt by Roman citizens because both saints are the Patrons of the City of Rome and, most importantly, the founders of the church in Rome. June 29 is believed to be the day of their joint martyrdom. The legend tells that after being decapitated Paul’s head bounced three times originating three fountains. On this site, St Paul at the Three Fountains Church in Rome has been constructed. In Rome, there is a titular church dedicated to the two saints: Ss. Pietro e Paolo a Via Ostiense, that is situated in the EUR district. Raised in 1955, it was consecrated only in 1966.

Learn about the two Major Basilicas erected on the burial sites of Saints Peter and Paul → 

Saints Peter and Paul Solemnity at the Vatican

On 29 June the capital of Italy enters torpor — while the majority of shops and public offices take a day off due to the public holiday, the lifeblood of the city flows into the Vatican, that becomes Rome’s pulsing heart for that day. The feast of the two Patrons is celebrated at the Holy See with the Pallium Mass. A pallium is basically a white woolen insignia symbolizing unity and the good shepherd. During the Mass, the Pope bestows a pallium upon the newly-appointed archbishops, who are entrusted with preaching the gospel from that moment on.

One more thing you don’t want to miss is the 400-year-old tradition of infiorata, which turns Via della Conciliazione (the one facing the Vatican) to flowers — the Christian-themed floral carpet remains on display all day long.

A sneak peek of 2018 Infiorata.

One more fact worth mentioning is the adorning of the St. Peter bronze statue — situated inside the eponymous basilica — that gets dressed in papal vestments for the occasion.

The celebration of Rome’s Patron Saints could not but end in style — such is the role of the traditional “La Girandola” fireworks at the Castel Sant’Angelo. Since its inception, in 1481, the dazzling show collected many admirers among most prominent artists of the past centuries.

Firework Display at the Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome (La Girandola). Photo courtesy of Simone Gianolio.   

Saint Paul Medal

Celebrate Saint Paul with a dedicated medal handcrafted in Italy.
Don't forget to request the Pope's blessing in the shopping cart. 

 St Paul Medal

Saint Peter Medal

Celebrate Saint Paul with a dedicated medal handcrafted in Italy.
Don't forget to request the Pope's blessing in the shopping cart.

St Peter medalSHOP NOW>

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