Ss Peter & Paul

imageSt Peter and St Paul were very different men, from very different backgrounds, united by their love of Christ and their martyrdom in Rome.

Tradition has it that Peter was arrested in Rome during a persecution of Christians under Nero and was crucified upside down, as befitted someone considered no better than a slave. There is strong archeological evidence to suggest he is buried underneath St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

imagePaul, meanwhile, was arrested at Caesarea but used his Roman citizenship to get his trial heard in Rome rather than be sent back to Jerusalem where he had many enemies. After two years of house arrest in Rome, tradition says that Paul was beheaded. The story goes that his head bounced on the ground three times, causing three springs of water to appear. This place is now called Tre Fontane (Three Fountains) and is outside the city of Rome, near the Basilica of St Paul-outside-the-Walls, where there lies a recently carbon-dated first century tomb with his inscription.

imageThese two apostles represent two aspects of the Christian church. St Peter, whom Catholics believe was the first bishop of Rome and so the first Pope, reminds us of our need for unity. St Paul, who was such a fearless preacher and great missionary, reminds us that we ought to be constantly engaging with the world in order to bring it the Good News.

Both speak of the need to be rooted in Christ and built up on him. These two apostles may well be called foundation stones of the Christian Church but it is Christ himself who is the cornerstone holding everything together.