June 29 - Sts Peter and Paul.
This feastday commemorates the martyrdom of the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, which tradition tells us took place on this day in the year 67AD.
(Simon) Peter was a native of Galilee, as was Our Lord. As he was fishing in the lake he was called by the Lord (Mk 1:16) "Come after Me, I will make you fishers of men". Our Lord chose him, renamed him Peter (the Rock) and prepared him to be the rock on which He would build His Church - the Head and Prince of the Apostles.
It is after Pentecost that Peter really begins his mission. One of his first duties was to build the number of the Apostles back up to 12, following the death of Judas Iscariot by his own hand.
Ten years after the Ascension, Peter transferred his Apostolic capital to Rome, the centre of the Roman Empire. From there he sent Mark to establish the Church in Alexandria, Egypt.
Peter laboured for 25 years in Rome to build up the great Roman Church.
On the orders of Nero, he was crucififed and buried on the Vatican Hill, where now the great Basilica named after him stands .
Saint Paul, who had originally been extremely anti-Christian was converted on the road to Damascus ( see January 25)
When Nero's persecution of Christians in Rome broke out, Sts Peter and Paul were in the East. They met in Corinth (Greece) and together returned to Rome to strengthen and encourage the Christians there. Howver they were arrested and condemned to death soon after their arrival.
An old tradition affirms that Saint Peter, who was condemned to be crucified, told his executioners that he was not worthy to die the same way Christ had, and so he was crucified upside down. His tomb is, of course, in St Peters Basilica in the Vatican.
St Paul being a Roman citizen was beheaded with a sword, and his body lies in a beautiful Basilica outside the walls on the Ostian Way.
The following comes from the Catholic Weekly of July 5 2009-
"Closing the Year of St Paul, Pope Benedict XVI announced that tests done on the presumed tomb of the Apostle revealed the presence of bone fragments from a human who lived between the first and second century.'This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul', the Pope said during an evening prayer service June 28 at Rome's Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls.
Vatican officials announced in December 2006 that below the Basilica's main altar, they had found a roughly cut marble sarcophagus beneath an inscription that reads "Paul Apostle Martyr".
The marble was too thick for X-Rays to penetrate, so they drilled a tiny hole in the marble and inserted a small probe in order to withraw fragments of whatever was inside. This yielded traces of purple linen, a blue fabric with linen threads and grains of red incense and bone fragments. The fragments underwent a Carbon-14 analysis carried out by experts who did not know the origin of the materials. They were dated between the first and second century.
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