The Commemoration of St. Paul Apostle

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

The Commemoration of St. Paul Apostle

On the Twenty fifth of January, we beheld Stephen leading to Christ’s mystic crib, the once ravenous wolf of Benjamin (Gen. xlix. 27), tamed at last, but who in the morning of his impetuous youth, had filled the Church of God with tears and bloodshed. His evening did indeed come when as Jacob had foreseen, Saul, the persecutor, would outstrip all his predecessors among Christ’s disciples, in giving increase to the Fold, and in feeding the Flock, with the choicest food of His heavenly doctrine.

By an unexampled privilege, Our Lord though already seated at the Right Hand of His Father, vouchsafed not only to call, but personally to instruct this new disciple, so that he might one day be numbered amongst His Apostles. The ways of God can never be contradictory one to another; hence, this creation of a new apostle may not be accomplished in a manner derogatory to the divine constitution already delivered, to the Christian Church by the Son of God. Therefore, as soon as the illustrious convert emerges from those sublime contemplations, during which the Christian dogma has been poured into his soul, he must needs go to Jerusalem to see Peter, as he himself relates to his disciples in Galatia. “It behoved him,” says Bossuet, “to collate his own Gospel with that of the prince of the Apostles.” From that moment, aggregated as a co-operator in the preaching of the Gospel, we see him at Antioch (in the “Acts of the Apostles”), accompanied by Barnabas, presenting himself to the work of opening the Church unto the Gentiles, the conversion of Cornelius having been already effected by Peter himself. He passes a whole year in this city, reaping an abundant harvest. After Peter’s imprisonment in Jerusalem, at his subsequent departure for Rome, a warning from on high makes known to those who preside over the Church at Antioch, that the moment is come for them to impose hands on the two missionaries, and confer on them the sacred character of Ordination.  Continue reading

Sensus Fidelium: Feast of Ss Peter & Paul

“Saints, Sorcerers, and Caesars” About the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul. The traditions that come down to us about these great Apostles. Paul’s public rebuke of Peter’s bad prudential judgment, and Peter’s heroic humility in accepting the rebuke. The roles played by Simon Magus and the Emperor Nero in the deaths of Peter and Paul. The origins of the Church of Domine, Quo Vadis and the Abbey of Tre Fontane. Why did the springs of Tre Fontane, which ran continually since the martyrdom of St. Paul, dry up in the 1950s? The sites of Peter and Paul’s martyrdom, and their final resting place.

Saints Peter and Paul

Image may contain: 3 people, indoor

Saints Peter and Paul

Apostles
(† 67)

This feast day commemorates the martyrdom of the two great Apostles, assigned by tradition to the same day of June in the year 67. They had been imprisoned in the famous Mamertine Prison of Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. Saint Peter was crucified; Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, was slain by the sword. Tomorrow the Church commemorates the Apostle of the Gentiles; today is dedicated primarily to Saint Peter.

The Chief of the Apostles was a native of Galilee like Our Lord. As he was fishing on its large lake he was called by Our Lord to be one of His apostles. Peter was poor and unlearned, but candid, eager, and loving. In his heart, first of all, his conviction grew, and then from his lips came the spontaneous confession: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God! Our Lord chose him and prepared him to be the Rock on which He would build His Church, His Vicar on earth, the Head and Prince of His Apostles, the center and indispensable bond of the Church’s unity, the unique channel of all spiritual powers, the guardian and unerring teacher of His truth.

All Scripture is alive with Saint Peter; his name appears no fewer than 160 times in the New Testament. But it is after Pentecost that he stands out in the full grandeur of his office. He sees to the replacement of the fallen disciple; he admits the Jews by thousands into the fold and in the person of Cornelius, opens it to the Gentiles; he founds and for a time rules the Church at Antioch.

Ten years after the Ascension Saint Peter transferred his apostolic capital to Rome, going in person to the center of the majestic Roman Empire, where were gathered the glories and riches of the earth, along with all the powers of evil. From there he sent Saint Mark, his valued secretary, to establish the Church of Alexandria in Egypt. In Rome Saint Peter’s Chair was placed; there for twenty-five years he labored at building up the great Roman Church. He was crucified by order of Nero and buried on the Vatican Hill, where now the Basilica stands which bears his name.

Reflection. Saint Peter is the author of two profoundly doctrinal epistles. He still lives on in his successors who maintain the same holy and immutable doctrine; he still rules and feeds the flock committed to him. The reality of our devotion to him is the surest test of the purity of our faith.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 7; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).