Today is the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. These are the “two great Apostles.” They are called this because of their importance in building up the Catholic Church.
Both Peter and Paul worked zealously to spread the Good News throughout the known world at the time even at the cost of their own lives. To them are entrusted the protection and guidance of the Catholic Church, especially the Roman Church or Latin Rite. Remember, the Catholic Church is a unity of many churches with different rites. The Roman church presides over the others because it is the See of St. Peter the first Pope.
St. Peter was the first Pope and head of the Apostles. Jesus changed his name from Simon to ‘Peter’ which means ‘rock.’ You can read more about this here: http://sacerdotvs.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-chair-of-peter.html
The Holy Apostle Peter was martyred during the reign of Emperor Nero on around AD 66 or 67. He was crucified up-side-down on Vatican hill and buried there right under the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Till this day, his remains are present there under the main altar are are testament to the words of Christ that He would build the Church on Peter the Rock and that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.
St. Paul was originally Saul. See: Acts 9. He persecuted Catholic Christians in the first years of the Church’s existence. However, he was called to conversion in a dramatic way. Jesus appeared to him asking him why was he persecuting Him? Here Jesus was making it clear that the Church is indeed His body (1 Corinthians 12:27). When the Church is attacked, Jesus is attacked. Paul took on this warning and became a Catholic Christian. Not only did he convert, but he became a “megaphone” for the faith spreading it around like if his life depended on it. He was lit on fire by the Holy Spirit and preached the Gospel without fear, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). St. Paul was beheaded on the spot where a Basilica bearing his name rests today.
On this day a plenary indulgence can be received by any Catholic who is blessed by a sacramental or relic of these holy men, who participate in Holy Mass and follow the other requirements, and recite the Apostle’s creed in addition.
Also, the Pope has the investiture ceremony where he imposes the Pallium on new Archbishops showing their metropolitan status.
May the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul pray for the Catholic Church and all Catholics. May they pray for Christian unity and ask God to give all the grace of fortitude so that we can fight on in faith without giving in to the errors of today’s world which are powerful.