St. Peter traditionally is regarded as the leader of the Twelve Disciples of Jesus. He was intimately connected with the earthly life and ministry of our Lord, and after His death tried to preserve the spiritual legacy left by Jesus to him followers. In the course of his missionary journeys, Peter founded the Church in Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. St. Peter is regarded by the Church as the first Bishop of Antioch, and the present-day Patriarch of Antioch is his successor in that Apostolic See.
St. Paul is the greatest of missionaries. The marvelous story of conversion on the Damascus Road (Acts 9:1-12) is hardly more striking than the rest of his life, one of the greatest adventure stories of history.
The account of Paul’s missionary journeys and the letters he wrote to the Churches he founded form an important part of the New Testament. He traveled over vast areas of the Roman world, preaching Christ, and fashioning the Christians Faith for all time. He called himself an Apostle, and he was the greatest of them, even though he was not of the Twelve Disciples. St. Paul was martyred in Rome during the reign of the Emperor Nero, about 87 A.D.
Taken from The Icon Book by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and Matusiak.
Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome under Emperor Nero in the year 87. Peter was crucified, head down at his own request [so that he would not die in the same way as Christ], and because Paul was a Roman Citizen, he was beheaded. The Church unites them in a common celebration and gives them identical honor.
Peter, a brother of Andrew the First-Called, was from Bethsaida. They were the sons of Jonas, of the tribe of Simeon. They lived by the work of their hands. At the time when John the Baptist was in prison, Jesus came to the Lake of Genesarett, and finding Peter and Andrew mending their nets, He called them and they followed Him without hesitation. Peter preached the Gospel in Judea, founded the Church of Antioch and finally came to Rome.
Paul, a Pharisee, belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. He was born in Tarsus of Asia Minor. At first, he persecuted the Church with great zeal and violence, imprisoning and killing Christians. But Christ appeared to him on the way to Damascus and changed his heart. He was baptized in Damascus by Ananias. He was to become one of the greatest exponents of Christ’s teachings, which he explained in letters or epistles.
Taken from Byzantine Daily Worship.
About the Icon
Saint Peter, on the left, is portrayed as an elderly man with white hair and beard, his inner garment is traditionally green and his outer garment is yellow or gold. Saint Paul, on the right; is portrayed with brown hair and beard; his inner garment is blue and his outer garment is purple. The saints embrace each other to denote their concord of love and faith in Jesus Christ.
Taken from The Icon Book by Boojamra, Essey, McLuckie, and Matusiak.
Troparion (Tone 4)
0 foremost in the ranks of apostles, and teachers of the world, intercede with the Master of All to grant safety to the world and to our souls the great mercy.
Kontakion (Tone 2)
O Lord, You have taken up to their eternal rest, and to the enjoyment of Your good things the two infallible preachers of divine truths and leaders of the apostles, for You have accepted their struggles and their death as being better than any holocaust, 0 You who alone know the secrets of hearts.
The Summer Lent
Celebrating the Feast of SS. Peter & Paul
by Catherine K. Contopoulos
On June 29, we celebrate the feasts of Saints Peter and Paul, two men whose dedication to the formation and sustenance of Christianity in the first century AD made them true pillars of the Church. Both men were chosen by Christ to minister to the world and both were given new names to mark their new life in Christ. They both embraced their martyrdom in Rome circa 67 AD. On June 30 we also celebrate the Holy Apostles whose ministry to all ends of the known world spread the message of God’s Word further. (The Fast of the Holy Apostles Peter & Paul begins the Monday after All Saints to June 29/July 12. It requires the same preparation as any Lenten period.) Their resolve, commitment and enthusiasm gave our Church life and firm ground. We should look to them for inspiration as we work towards the support and growth of our Church.
Saul grew up in a devout Jewish family in Tarsus, Syria. He saw Christianity as a threat to Judaism and therefore was determined to eradicate it. He is first mentioned in Acts 7:58 as a zealous persecutor of Christians in Jerusalem. On his way to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem, he was struck by a vision of heavenly light and fell to the ground (see Acts 9). “Saul, why are you persecuting Me!” asked the Lord. “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Trembling and astonished, Saul asked, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Saul was blinded from this holy light and remained so and in prayer in Damascus. Three days later, Ananias, a devout Christian who followed the Lord’s command to find Saul, healed him and baptized him so that he would receive the Holy Spirit. He changed his name to Paul. Paul began to preach to the people about Jesus and had to flee Damascus when the Jews plotted to kill him. In Jerusalem he tried to join the Apostles, but they were afraid of him, having known him as the harsh persecutor of Christians. But Barnabas believed in him and brought him to the Apostles. Barnabas and Paul went on many missionary travels together throughout Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus and Greece. With others and on his own, Paul continued his ministry to the people in these lands again and traveled to Ephesus, Corinth, Athens, Thessalonica, Thrace, Crete, Malta, Sicily and Italy to Rome. He was the greatest Apostolic missionary and is often referred to as the “Apostle to the Gentiles.” His great courage, stamina and fierce intelligence were the hallmarks of his ministry. As Fr. George Poulos notes in his Orthodox Saints series, “Paul was a brilliant orator and writer, and he was sensitive to the needs and moods of various tribes of both Greek and Near Eastern peoples. His extraordinary letters or epistles make up almost half of the New Testament.
“In Rome Paul was arrested and beheaded in 67 AD. [Editor’s Note: Roman citizens were beheaded rather than crucified.] In his last letter, 2 Timothy, he states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Simon first met Jesus through his brother Andrew, the “first-called” Apostle. Both brothers were fishermen at the Sea of Galilee who gave up their work when Jesus told them, “I will make you fishers of men” (Read Matthew 4:18-25 and John 1:40-42). In Matthew 16:16-19, Simon tells Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus, pleased with His Disciple’s faith, blessed him with a sacred trust, “You are Peter (Petros) and on this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” [Editor’s Note: Orthodox Christians understand that the “rock” that Jesus refers to here is Peter’s statement, not the person of Peter.] Peter was with Jesus throughout his ministry. And just as Christ had foretold, Peter denied knowing the Lord upon His arrest for fear of being persecuted, but later repented.
After Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension and the grace of Pentecost, Peter helped foster the Christian community in Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Peter was arrested by the Jewish authorities, and an angel of the Lord freed him from prison (Acts 12). He journeyed throughout Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine and Italy teaching people about Christ. He performed many miracles of healing and resurrections as well (see the Book of Acts). He established the first church in Antioch and became its first bishop. In Rome he converted many to the faith.
Legend has it that when the great persecutions against Christians began in Rome at that time, Peter was advised to leave the city. On the road he saw Jesus heading in the opposite direction towards Rome. “Lord where are you going?” Peter asked. Jesus responded, “I am going to be crucified a second time.” Peter realized his fate and returned to Rome where he was arrested and condemned to be crucified in 67 AD. He asked to be crucified upside down, as he felt unworthy of the same punishment as his Lord. Two of Peter’s letters, probably written during his imprisonment in Rome, are included in the New Testament.
© 1999 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).