SUNDAY, JANUARY 25: Less than one month after commemoration of the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the Christian Church honors a man who participated in the stoning of the martyr before dramatically changing his life: Saul, celebrated today in the Conversion of Paul the Apostle. Originally named Saul and born in Tarsus, the future apostle at first persecuted Christians. Though he never met the living Jesus, Saul was struck by a blazing light one day on his way to Damascus, and in a few moments, he became a follower of Christ. (Read more from Catholic Culture.) Saul spent the rest of his life preaching as a Christian, for Jesus Christ.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29: Christians from East to West join today for the Christian Feast and Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
A public holiday in Malta and parts of Switzerland, the liturgical feast honors the martyrdom in Rome of both saints. Newly created metropolitan archbishops receive the primary symbol of their office—the pallium—from the Pope today.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, adherents mark the end of the Apostles’ Fast on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. (The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has more.)
THE ‘ROCK’ OF CHRIST’S CHURCH
The famed fisherman of Galilee was born by the name of Simon, only to be renamed Cephas, or Peter, by Jesus, upon their meeting. So called because of his strong status as “rock” of the Church and leader of the apostles, Peter was among the first of Jesus’s disciples; Peter often hosted Jesus at his house, and several miracles occurred in his home, too. (Wikipedia has details.) Some believe that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, and he died in the city in which he preached in approximately 67 CE. Peter was martyred while bound to a cross and is buried beneath the basilica that bears his name.
THE CONVERT WHO BECAME A PREACHER
Paul was born by the name Saul, and diligently studied law as a youth. When the Christian movement began within Judaism, he was initially a strong opponent of these new followers of Jesus. According to Christian tradition, Paul’s life changed one day on the road to Damascus—when he was visited by Jesus. (Learn more from Catholic Culture, and American Catholic.) Paul spent many years preaching Christianity, traveling from Jerusalem to Cyprus, Asia Minor, Europe and Corinth. He usually is credited with bringing the Christian movement into Europe. In 67 CE Paul was beheaded in Rome.