Suspended between reality and legend, the lives of Saints Peter and Paul intertwine several times.
Peter was a fisherman from Galilee and was the first Apostle whom Jesus called with him. He arrived in Rome a few years after the death of his master. He was a great preacher and converted many to Christianity until he was arrested during Nerone’s persecutions.
Paul, instead, born in Tarsus (Turkey), from a Jewish family converted to Christianity after a vision on the road to Damascus and became a tireless messenger of the word of Jesus. Arrested in Jerusalem, he was led, in 61 AD, to Rome, where he lived for a few years in imprisonment. Arrested again during Nerone’s persecutions, he ended up, according to legend, in the same prison as Saint Peter.
The roads of the two Apostles separated in the tragic epilogue: Peter tried to escape, but, on the Appia, the appearance of Jesus convinced him to go back and face martyrdom. He was crucified in the Circus of Caligula at the foot of the Vatican hill; not believing himself worthy of dying like Christ, he obtained that the cross was planted upside down.
Paul, on the other hand, as a Roman citizen, had the “privilege” of a less painful death and was beheaded at the Acquae Salviae, south of Rome.
The two apostles abandoned their earthly life but left the traces of their passage in the eternal city and the places of preaching, miracles, prodigious conversions, simple daily gestures, saved by popular devotion, still retain some of their special lives.
The celebrations in Rome
The celebration of the patrons of Rome recalls the martyrdom of the two apostles who came to Rome in the same period from Judea and were martyred on the same day, even if in different places.
The most awaited moment of the celebration is the one in which the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul, located in Eur neighborhood, is all illuminated with lights.
To fully experience the patron saint’s day in Rome don’t miss the fireworks of Castel Sant’Angelo.