St. Peter and St. Paul turned the religious community of their day upside-down. They were martyred for their bold proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because of this, Christians worldwide now regard 29 June as Saint Peter’s and Saint Paul’s Day. The holiday is observed widely in the Catholic communities with special masses being held in observance of Peter and Paul’s sacrifice for their faith.
Some of the liveliest celebrations are found in countries such as Chile, Spain, Italy, Malta, Peru, and Venezuela. Saints Peter and Paul’s Day festivities are as varied as they are spirited. A stunning example of a celebration in a coastal region is found in Valparaiso, Chile. Fishermen will bring statues of the saints on board their decorated vessels and have an aquatic parade amid the glow of hundreds of candles. Similar festivities can be found in the coastal areas of Peru as well.
In the towns of Guatire and Guarenas located in the state of Miranda, Venezuela, St. Peter is paid homage during a festival known as The Clubbing of San Pedro. It begins on the evening of the 28th with dancing and singing then continues throughout the 29th with parades and processions, fun and festivities.
Another luminous celebration is held in Malta where, in some areas, they use bonfires to light up the night. Families enjoy picnics and wine throughout the day in Malta’s largest natural woodland, Buskett Gardens.
Perhaps the most elaborate celebration connected with Saint Peter and Paul’s Day is found in Rome, Italy. The day begins with a special mass led by the pope. After which, the pope kisses the feet of the statue of St. Peter. Saint Paul is being honoured across town at the church of his namesake with a festival and street carnival that lasts almost the entire day. Festivities culminate with the magical Girandola at Saint Angel Castle. Not just an ordinary fireworks display, this exceptional exhibit began in 1481 with one of the original designers being famed artists, Michelangelo.
While the festivities vary greatly, the sentiment is the same. These celebrations embrace these two apostle’s steadfastness, loyalty and boldness. In the face of opposition, they remained true to their faith and beliefs. May we all live our lives so well.
By Julie Bowman