Peter and Paul are the two great heroes of the Apostolic Age ‑ Peter for leading the first Christian communities and binding them in unity, a role that springs from his profession of faith in Caesarea Philippi, and Paul for travelling throughout the Roman Empire as the Apostle to the Gentiles, ensuring that the Gospel could be heard by all. They both ended up in Rome, the heart of the Empire, where they crowned their lives of witness by shedding their blood for Christ. As the ancient hymn for this feast day (“Decora Lux aeternitatis”) says: “Rejoice, O Rome, this day; thy walls they once did sign With princely blood, who now their glory share with thee. What city’s vesture glows with crimson deep as thine? What beauty else has earth that may compare with thee?” In celebrating the death of these apostles and martyrs, we celebrate the triumph of life and death offered fully to God.
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