On June 29, the Church celebrates the memory of the two great apostles of the Church at the beginning, Peter and Paul, who did much to found communities of believers in the Risen Jesus. June 29, according to tradition, is the date of their martyrdom in Rome.

peter_paulThe story of the activities of Peter and Paul is told in the Acts of the Apostles, the fifth book of the New Testament. The first part of the book focuses on Peter and the second part on the character of Paul. There is nothing about their deaths in the Acts of the Apostles but Christian tradition determines that they died as martyrs in Rome during the persecutions of Emperor Nero in around 64.

Peter, who was one of Jesus' first disciples, received authority from Jesus when he was still alive. After he proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus said to him: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:17-19).

Paul did not know Jesus during his lifetime on earth and at the beginning was an opponent of the community of believers and persecuted them. During a journey to Damascus, where he sought to continue the persecution, Jesus appeared to Paul and he lost his sight. Jesus sent to him one of the believers from Damascus to heal him and to reveal to him his vocation. Hananiah came to him and told him Jesus' words: "He is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name" (Acts 9:15-16).

In Rome, the place of their death, two of the main churches are named for the apostles and there their tombs are indicated: the Basilica of Saint Peter (in the Vatican) and the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls.