Feast Day of St. Peter and St. Paul – 29th June

Peter was the son of Jonas and brother of Andrew the first-called disciple from Bethsaida of Galilee. A fisherman by trade he was unlearned and poor, and was called Simon; later he was renamed Peter by the Christ Himself, “Thou art Simon the son of Jonas; thou shalt be called Cephas (which is Aramaic for the rock)”. He followed Jesus thereafter until, when in the court of Caiaphas the high priest, he denied Him thrice because of his fear of the Jews. Later he received forgiveness and the commission from Christ Himself to ‘Feed my sheep’.  After the Resurrection of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter preached in Judea, Antioch, and certain parts of Asia, and finally came to Rome, where he was crucified upside down by Nero, about the year 66 or 68. Two of his Epistles survive in the New Testament.

Saul (later Paul) was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin from Tarsus. He was a highly educated Roman citizen, fluent in the Greek language, an expert in knowledge of the Law, a Pharisee, born of a Pharisee. He was a disciple of Gamaliel a notable rabbi in Jerusalem. Paul was a zealot for the traditions of the Jews and a great persecutor of the Church of Christ. In great rage and fury against the disciples of the Lord he went to Damascus bearing letters of introduction from the high priest. His intention was to bring the Disciples of Christ back to Jerusalem as prisoners. As he was approaching Damascus at about midday there shone a blinding light from Heaven. Falling on the earth, he heard a voice saying,”Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” And he asked, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest; it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” As a result of this vision he was blinded for a time and was led into the city where he was baptized by the Apostle Ananias whereupon his eyes were opened. Thereafter he spoke with boldness in the synagogues, proclaiming that “Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 9:1-21). He preached the Gospel with zeal and suffered much persecution.  He endured captivity and imprisonment, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, perilous journeys on land and sea, and in cities, hunger and thirst in the Name of Christ. He underwent trials before kings and the Israelites, and above all, he founded and visited many churches that exist today. His story can be found in the Book of the Acts, and in his fourteen Epistles in the New Testament. Like Saint Peter his life ended in martyrdom when he was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Nero, at the same time that Peter was crucified..

Christopher Jobson

The feature image for this post is “El Greco – Saint Peter and Saint Paul – Google Art Project” (Wikicommons, P.D.)

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