The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated on June 29th, is a significant event honoring the martyrdom and contributions of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Their portrayal in the picture – together holding the Church, symbolizes the unity and collaboration necessary in the Church’s early growth. Despite their different missions and occasional disagreements, their combined efforts and mutual respect were crucial in establishing a unified Christian community. An important point to remember in today’s day where disagreements can gain unnecessary focus rather than being healthy discussion.

Both apostles are strongly linked to Rome, the center of the Roman Catholic Church. St. Peter established the Church in Rome and served as its first bishop, while St. Paul was instrumental in nurturing the Christian community there. And notable, both were martyred in Rome, forever tying them together through life and death.

St. Peter, originally named Simon, is considered the first Pope by the Catholic Church. He was a fisherman by trade before becoming a “fisher of men” at Jesus’ call. He is often referred to as the “rock” upon which Jesus said He would build His Church.

St. Paul, originally Saul of Tarsus, was a Jewish Pharisee who initially persecuted Christians. His dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus transformed him into one of Christianity’s most ardent missionaries and theologians. Paul’s extensive travels and writings, include several New Testament epistles, that were instrumental in spreading the Christian faith.

The Church of St. Peter and the remains of the Church of St. Paul near Old Goa, are remembrances of churches dedicated to the apostles.

St. Peter is often depicted holding two keys, it shows his unique role in Christian theology as the gatekeeper of heaven and the leader of the Church on Earth. Additionally, the Vatican Seal features crossed keys, reflecting the enduring legacy of Peter’s authority. This symbol represents the Pope’s role as the spiritual leader of Catholics worldwide.

St. Paul is often depicted holding a sword, which signifies his martyrdom (by beheading), the power of his evangelical mission, his role as a defender of the faith, and the penetrating power of the Word of God.

Together they represent the core leadership and missionary zeal that spread Christianity. Let us take inspiration from this imagery to remind us of the essential unity and mission of the Church founded by these two great apostles.

– Louella Santimano Dias