Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman from Galilee. Jesus gave him the name Peter, which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.
Among the Twelve, Peter was the first to recognize the divinity of Christ and to publicly profess that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. Chosen by Our Lord to shepherd His flock, he led the Apostles as the first Pope.
Peter and the apostles James and John were often taken aside by Our Lord and were witnesses to the more profound mysteries of Christ’s divinity: His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, His agony in the Garden. Peter’s triple denial of Our Lord during the night after the Last Supper filled him with intense sorrow.
Peter became head of the Church in Rome and was martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.
He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter’s Basilica is built over his tomb.
Paul is known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish Pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem.
Saul was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians when he was surrounded by a light from heaven. He was blinded and fell from his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
(source: America Needs Fatima)
Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67. He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In speaking of St. Peter and St. Paul, Augustine of Hippo said of them: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed.
And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”
Prayers and Devotions to St Peter and St Paul:
O holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, I choose you this day and forever to be my special patrons and advocates; thee, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, because thou art the Rock, upon which Almighty God hath built His Church; thee, Saint Paul, because thou wast fore-chosen by God as the Vessel of election and the Preacher of truth in the whole world. Obtain for me, I pray you, lively faith, firm hope, and burning love; complete detachment from myself, contempt of the world, patience in adversity, humility in prosperity, attention in prayer, purity of heart, a right intention in all my works, diligence in fulfilling the duties of my state of life, constancy in my resolutions, resignation to the will of God and perseverance in the grace of God even unto death; that so, by means of your intercession and your glorious merits, I may be able to overcome the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil, and may be made worthy to appear before the chief and eternal Shepherd of souls, Jesus Christ, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth for endless ages, to enjoy His presence and love Him forever. Amen. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be.
V. Thou shalt make them princes over all the earth.
R. They shall be mindful of Thy name, O Lord.
Let us pray:
O God, Whose right hand raised up blessed Peter, when he walked upon the water and began to sink, and thrice delivered his fellow-Apostle Paul from the depths of the sea, when he suffered shipwreck: graciously hear us and grant, by the merits of them both, that we also may attain unto everlasting glory: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen (An Indulgence of 500 days.)
Prayer to Sts. Peter and Paul
for the Holy Catholic Church
Defend, O Lord, thy servants, we beseech thee, from all dangers both of body and soul; and, by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, of blessed N., and of all thy saints, mercifully grant us the blessings of peace and safety ; that all adversities and errors being removed, thy Church may freely and securely serve thee; through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Prayer to St. Paul
Thou art the Vessel of election, Saint Paul the Apostle, the Preacher of truth in the whole world.
V. Pray for us, Saint Paul the Apostle,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Almighty and everlasting God, Who, of Thy divine mercy, didst instruct Thy blessed Apostle Paul what he should do that he might be filled with the Holy Ghost; by his admonitions directing us and his merits interceding for us, grant that we may serve Thee in fear and trembling and so be filled with the comfort of Thy heavenly gifts. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.(An Indulgence of 500 days)
Defend, O Lord, Thy people: and as they put their trust in the patronage of Thy holy Apostles, Peter and Paul, keep them ever by Thy protection. Through Christ our Lord. Amen (Roman Missal)
(An Indulgence of 300 days)
Hymn: Exultet orbis gaudiis
Common of the Apostles
Now let the earth with joy resound,
And heaven the chant re-echo round;
Nor heaven nor earth too high can raise
The great Apostles’ glorious praise.
O Ye who, throned in glory dread,
Shall judge the living and the dead,
Lights of the world forevermore!
To you the suppliant prayer we pour.
Ye close the sacred gates on high;
At your command apart they fly:
Oh! loose for us the guilty chain
We strive to break, and strive in vain.
Sickness and health your voice obey;
At your command they go or stay:
From sin’s disease our souls restore;
In good confirm us more and more.
So when the world is at its end,
And Christ to judgment shall descend,
May we be called those joys to see
Prepared form all eternity.
Praise to the Father, with the Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One;
As ever was in ages past,
And so shall be while ages last.
(More prayers and devotions at Catholic Arbour of Faith and Morals)