In the calendar of the Orthodox Church there are no such days, on which the memory of one or another saint would not fall. But holy days suggest their own hierarchy of significance, and some of them are more important than others. First of all, it is Easter, the Great Seasons, and great feasts. The latter also includes the day of July 12 - Peter and Paul, the first apostles. About him, as well as about these people themselves, we'll talk below.
Day of the Holy First Apostles
The day of Peter and Paul marks the end of the first of the two days of fasting during the summer months. It is called the people of Petrovsky. The second post is Ouspensky, and it falls on August. But now it is the first one that is interesting for us, which precedes the celebration on July 12. Peter and Paul, commemorated on this day by the Orthodox Church, is remembered by all believers. This is not surprising, because it is thanks to them, according to official church history, that Christianity is what it is. And the fasting that precedes this holiday is designed to help adequately prepare to commemorate the memory of the two pillars of the church.
In fact, the day of these apostles is celebrated on June 29th. However, due to the thirteen-day backlog of the Julian calendar in the civil Gregorian style, the day of Peter and Paul falls on July 12. In the Catholic Church, by the way, which in its tradition of the Gregorian style, honoring these two husbands falls on the 29th day of June. To be completely honest, the same is true of most Orthodox autocephalous churches, which some time ago synchronized the church calendar and the civil one. In this sense, the Russian Orthodox Church is an exception along with the Jerusalem, Georgian, Serbian and Polish churches. All of them, as well as the monastic republic of Athos and a number of individual parishes and monasteries around the world continue to build their liturgical life and celebrate church holidays on the Julian calendar.
About the apostles Peter and Paul
Under the mask of a man whom the whole world knows as the apostle Peter, hides a simple Galilean peasant named Simon. Simon lived on the shores of Lake Tiberias, also called the Sea of Galilee, and earned his living by fishing together with his brother, now known as the Apostle Andrew the First-Called. Simon did not have any education, he was distinguished by fervor of character, impulsiveness and emotionality. In his judgments, he was somewhat clumsy, conservative, belligerent, and flexible in his mind. But it was he who, as the Gospel narrates, was chosen by Jesus Christ to continue the work of his teacher on earth when he was not.
Simon's election as head of the apostles
The gospel describes how this happened. It all started with the fact that about Jesus in the masses began to go various rumors, stemming from the attempts of people to figure out who he is. Some thought he was a new prophet. Others said it was just a crook. Still others came to the point that they even claimed that under Jesus, the prophet Elijah was hiding, who many centuries ago was taken, according to biblical tales, to heaven alive, that is, along with the body. So Jesus himself decided to ask his disciples what they thought about this. The apostles, in reply, only retold what other people think. And only the zealous and ardent Peter on behalf of all the apostles declared to his teacher that he confessed him as the Christ, the son of the Living God. In response, Christ promised that Simon would become the stone on which the Christian church would be built. And yet, that in the hands of Simon will be given the keys to heaven and from hell, as well as the power to forgive and forsake sins and create judgment. At the same time, Simon, by the way, became Peter, because “Peter” in Greek means “stone.” And until that day, this word was not used as a proper name. In view of all this, this apostle came to be called first in the church tradition. And that is why the icon of Peter and Paul depicts Peter with the keys in his hands. After the death of Christ, Simon led the church and the council of apostles. But here, Catholics and Orthodox view its role and degree of authority differently. If the Catholic Church considers this apostle and his successors on the throne (Roman popes) to be the real vicar of Christ on earth, then in the Orthodox tradition the first apostle is given the role of the first among equals, and the supreme authority is assigned to the Ecumenical Council.
On the way to Damascus, as he writes himself, Saul experienced a wonderful conversion. Suddenly, he and all his companions were shone with a supernatural light from heaven, and the divine voice asked him: “Saul, why are you following me?” Confused and frightened, he only asked: “Who are you, my lord?” And the voice answered: “I am Jesus whom you persecute. ” Then he was ordered to go to the home of one of the Christians, then be baptized. From that moment until the moment he was baptized, Saul was blind. After baptism, he proved himself as a zealous preacher of the teachings of Jesus and began to be called by his Greek name Paul. Initially, Christians were afraid to accept Paul into their ranks, since, knowing his reputation, they thought that his conversion was only a tricky trick. And only in Jerusalem, Peter and other apostles introduced him to the Christian congregation and accepted him as their own. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to apostolic, preaching work. He worked so zealously, so selflessly, that, in the end, he acquired himself, like the vicar of Christ, Peter, the title of the first apostle. And this despite the fact that during the life of Jesus he did not know him, did not see and was not included in the list of the twelve closest disciples.
Saints Peter and Paul: the story of the holiday
Death of Peter
As for Paul, he was a Roman citizen, and therefore under the law he could be executed the only way, quick and painless – decapitation. Paul died by the sword in Rome, but when he got there and how long he stayed there, unknown. Tradition only has preserved the mention of the place on Otisco the way in which saints Peter and Paul last met and parted in the day of his death. Perhaps it does have some historical truth. Anyway, today this place houses the temple of Peter and Paul, designed to remind their tragic fate.
Exposing the legend
Despite all the beauty of the above legend, we must state that it was largely invented by the people. Peter and Paul died on different days, and the celebration of their supposedly common death on June 29 (July 12) is connected with a completely different event. Namely, with the fact that on that day in 258 the solemn transfer of the remains of these apostles took place. In the church life such events are also solemn and then enter the calendar as holidays. But in this case, the independent value of the holiday of transferring the relics overshadowed the legend of their supposedly common death, and with time the conviction was established in the minds of the masses that it was precisely martyr death that the apostles Peter and Paul took to Rome is celebrated on June 29. And in memory of this, almost every Christian city has a temple of Peter and Paul. Russia in this sense is no exception. Below we list the most famous Peter and Paul churches in Russia.
The temples of Peter and Paul in Russia
First, it is necessary to recall the Cathedral of Peter and Paul, located in Peterhof. This is a huge, very beautiful temple, built in the years 1894-1905. Also noteworthy is the Peter and Paul Church in Kazan, which begins its history with a wooden church, erected in 1565. The restructuring in stone was carried out with the direct participation of the Emperor Peter the Great in the 1720s. The last of the temples that we celebrate is the Cathedral of Peter and Paul in the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg. This building is also associated with the town-planning company of the aforementioned emperor, however, it was completed after his death.