THE SYNAXARIONOn June 29 in the Holy Orthodox Church, we commemorate the holy, glorious, all-laudable and foremost of the Apostles, Peter and Paul.
Together, they are the patrons and protectors of the Patriarchate of Antioch. Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew, the First-called. He was of the Tribe of Simeon from the town of Bethsaida. He was a fisherman and, at first, was called Simon but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas or Peter: “And when Jesus beheld him, He said, ‘Thou art Simon the son of Jonah; thou shalt be called Cephas,’ which is by interpretation, a rock” (John 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to clearly express faith in the Lord Jesus saying: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). His love for the Lord was great and his faith in the Lord gradually strengthened. When the Lord was brought to trial, Peter denied Him three times but after only one glance into the face of the Lord, Peter’s soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter became a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. Peter worked many powerful miracles; he healed the sick, resurrected the dead; the sick were healed even from his shadow. By order of the evil Emperor Nero, Peter was condemned to death in 64 A.D. Installing Linus as Bishop of Rome, counseling and comforting the flock of Christ, Peter proceeded joyfully to his death. Seeing the cross before him, he begged his executioners to crucify him upside down for he considered himself unworthy to die as did his Lord. Thus the great servant of the Great Lord reposed and received the wreath of eternal glory.
Paul was born in Tarsus of the tribe of Benjamin. At first, he was called Saul, studied under Gamaliel, was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christianity. He was miraculously converted to the Christian Faith by the Lord Himself Who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. “Suddenly, a light from heaven flashed about him. And Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?” And he said, “Who art Thou, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-5). Saul was blinded, but regained his sight when he was baptized by the Apostle Ananias. Then he was called Paul and numbered in the service of the great apostles. With a fiery zeal, Paul preached the Gospel everywhere from the borders of Arabia to Spain, among the Jews and among the Gentiles. As horrible as his sufferings were, so much more was his super human patience. Throughout all the years of his preaching Paul, from day to day, hung as one on a weak thread between life and death. Since he fulfilled all days and nights with labor and suffering for Christ, since he organized the Church in many places and since he attained such a degree of perfection he was able to say: “It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero at the same time as the Apostle Peter.
By the intercessions of Thy Saints, O Christ our God, have mercy on us. Amen.