Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor the rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, together with Paul and the company of the twelve, whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, giving glory to the one who gave glory to them! Kontakion of Saints Peter and Paul.
The feast of the Glorious and All-Praised Princes of the Apostles Peter and Paul is celebrated every year on June 29th. The tradition of the Church tells us that it was on this day in the year 67 AD that they were both martyred in the city of Rome under the persecution of the emperor Nero. In our liturgical texts they are called the “princes,” “leaders,” or “teachers” of the apostles–Peter is called the “rock” by Christ (Matthew 16:18), and Paul, formerly a persecutor of Christians, became a great teacher of the Faith and wrote many of the books in the New Testament. Not only did these holy men lead the other apostles and instruct the faithful, they refused to abandon the Faith when threatened with persecution and death. These men truly gave all to God, not only in the course of their lives, but also through their death. As such, these great saints are examples for all bishops and priests who shepherd the flock of the Church, as well as for each of the faithful. In commemorating their holy lives and courageous deaths, let us ask them to continually pray that we may live our lives with the zeal and love for Christ with which Holy Peter and Paul were filled.
Since this first is the patronal feast of our Saint Peter Church we celebrate it with much solemnity. These pictures are of the Festal Divine Liturgy followed by the Litya, festal procession, and the blessing of loaves and the church building.
Photos courtesy of Alice Gilbert.