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Peter and Paul, the martyred saints who are also the patrons of Rome, the Eternal City. St. Peter was crucified upside down in 64 AD in the Vatican; Saint Paul instead was persecuted and then beheaded by order of the emperor Nero in 67 AD. Generally on the evening of June 28, the Pope gives the blessing; while, the next day, the “fisherman’s net” hung in honor of St. Peter, who later became the “fisherman of men”, hung at the central gate of the Vatican.

papa francesco - pope francis
The Pope while giving the blessing to the faithful

Simultaneously in the Basilica of St John Lateran there is the display of the reliquaries which contain the heads of the two saints. This year, the health emergency for the Covid-19 pandemic inevitably changes the program of Roman celebrations for the two beloved saints, patrons of Rome.

The feast of patron saints that has been handed down for centuries

Live from St. Peter’s Basilica, on Monday, June 29 at 9.30 am, Tv2000, the Cei broadcaster in collaboration with Vatican Media, broadcasts the celebration of the mass presided over by Pope Francis. During the rite there will be the blessing of the liturgical vestments intended for the new metropolitan archbishops and at noon the recitation of the Angelus.

Saints Peter and Paul in a painting
San Pietro and San Paolo in an ancient image

The date of June 29 is linked to the ancient Roman festival of Quirino which celebrated the twins Romolo and Remo. Over time, the two apostles were also considered the founders of Rome. In fact, Pope Leo the Great, in one of his sermons, speaks of Rome, city ‘disciple of truth’ thanks to the two apostles.

Peter and Paul, two saints who are the guiding figures of the Catholic Church

The two saints are considered two leading figures of the Catholic Church: Peter in fact receives the keys of the kingdom of heaven, while Paul is the apostle of the people who spreads the Gospel of Christ to the world. The feast of San Pietro and San Paolo, in Rome, has ancient roots. They are already mentioned in the games of the Roman children of the 19th century. At one time, according to tradition at the second Vespers, the statue of St. Peter was dressed in the solemn clothes of the pontiff. Then the pallii or liturgical vestments were blessed, which the next day would be donated by the Pope to patriarchs, bishops and metropolitans appointed on the occasion of the anniversary.

holy apostles rome

They are vestments that represent the union between the Universal Church and the local ones. The Pope then kisses the foot of the bronze statue of Saint Peter, the apostle chosen by Christ to ‘build his Church’. In addition, every June 29, at sunset, a procession also takes place, which has the particularity of carrying a relic of St. Paul, or its chain made of 14 iron rings, currently kept in the basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. After sunset, the dome of St. Peter’s basilica is illuminated by day with dozens of torches; while above Castel Sant’Angelo the party ‘explodes’ with fireworks.

Traditional events of the festival

The 2020 edition of the anniversary of patron saints will see Michelangelo‘s Pinwheel light up in digital version. The Girandola, conceived by Giuseppe Passeri, is organized and implemented by the IX Invicta Group and is supported by the honor committee chaired by Federico Mollicone. For eight consecutive years the Pinwheel, “The wonder of time”, has illuminated Castel Sant’Angelo with its baroque splendor. In 2016, Michelangelo’s Pinwheel was later transferred to the Pincio.

la girandola in un dipinto d'epoca - the pinwheel in a vintage painting
The Pinwheel in a vintage painting

This year, for the anniversary of the patrons, the 14th digital edition of the historical re-enactment of the Pinwheel of Rome will be visible online on the website. Meanwhile, for the 2020 party, the “Ambulanti di Forte dei Marmi” will also return. This is the exclusive appointment with the most famous market event in Italy. The famous boutiques en plein air, will exhibit the best of made in Italy craftsmanship for leather goods. And, again, fine cashmere garments, new fashion collections, Florentine art fabrics: all high quality merchandise. With the “Ambulanti di Forte dei Marmi” appointment on Monday 29 June on Lungotevere Testaccio, former slaughterhouse (Metro B, Piramide stop).

Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome, the Eternal City ultima modifica: 2020-06-29T11:13:00+02:00 da Maria Scaramuzzino