Today is one of my favorite feast days of the liturgical calendar, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles. There is always a beautiful papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with the pallium ceremony in which new metropolitan archbishops receive the symbol of their authority. In addition, June 29 is one of two days a year (the other is the February 22 feast of the Chair of Peter) when the bronze statue of the saint for whom the basilica is named is adorned with pontifical vestments, the triple tiara and a papal ring.
It is a holiday in the Vatican and in Rome as well, although the rest of Italy goes to work as if it was just another day! I always loved having this day off the years I worked at the Vatican. Usually there are many festive events planned for June 29 but 2020 is an exceptional year in many ways, including traditional celebrations.
EWTN Rome staff takes Italian and Vatican days off but I go with the U.S. calendar of holidays. Even though it was a workday for me, I try to do as little as possible because, inside me, I know June 29th is a holiday, a festive occasion, a celebration – and celebrate is the key word! You’ll see one result of my work when you tune in to “At Home” with Jim and Joy this afternoon! (posted later on Youtube if you miss it). I also slow down on June 29 as I spend time savoring the year past and preparing for another celebration, a new year on June 30!
The first part of the day was not exactly festive. I attended the funeral of a dear Australian friend from my parish who died Friday, so you might say we celebrated a great life. To know Gina was to love her and she graced our parish family for over 40 years so we knew each other almost from day one!
I had lunch outside at a place near my home and it was surreal! I live on what is normally one of the busiest streets in Rome and today, at 2pm, you could have shot a cannon down the middle of the street and not hit animal, vegetable or mineral! Not just because it was a holidays with Romans away at their seaside homes or in the mountains, but this is a city devoid of tourists, especially Americans and Asians.
The day is winding down so I leave you with a bit of news about the papal Mass this morning.
ROME CELEBRATES HER PATRON SAINTS, PETER AND PAUL
Today, June 29 is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and patron saints of the City of Rome. It is a holiday in the Vatican and in Rome and usually is a very festive occasion but the Coronavirus has muted the celebrations this year – the pallium ceremony in St. Peter’s, the infiorata along Via della Conciliazione and events planned by the city, for starters.
Normally, on this feast day, in a ceremony during a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the new metropolitan archbishops, created since last June 29, receive the pallium from the Pope. The pallium is a white woolen circular band embroidered with six black crosses and two hanging pieces, one in front and another in back, that is worn over the shoulders and symbolizes their authority as archbishop and their special bond with the Roman Pontiff.
Five Americans were among the 54 new archbishops who will receive the palliums blessed at the start of Mass today by Pope Francis: Archbishops Etienne of Seattle, Perez of Philadelphia, Hartmayer of Atlanta, Bellisario of Anchorage and Rozanski of St. Louis.
In addition, 85-year old Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, named dean of the College of Cardinals in January this year, received a pallium by virtue of his new office. It was placed on him by the Pope. Today’s papal Mass, in the presence of about 90 faithful, was concelebrated by 10 of the 14 cardinals who are of the Order of Bishops.
For decades the pallium was placed by the Pope on the shoulders of the new metropolitan archbishops, However, in 2015 Francis changed the traditional ceremony, having decided that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops would henceforth take place in their home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs. The nuncio to the country of the new archbishop places the pallium on his shouldets.
Traditionally there are big festivities in Rome when the new archbishops, in the company of family members and friends, are present to receive the pallium. There are receptions, luncheons, dinnes, etc. offered by embassies and by national seminaries such as the North American College.
PAPAL MASSES, PALLIUMS, INFIORATA, AND FIREWORKS FOR TWO SAINTS
Here’s a great piece with photos from thelocal.it about this very Roman holiday, so read on.
June 29th is the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the two patron saints of Rome, and a public holiday within the capital. But this year, the celebrations are a little different.
While June 29th remains a holiday in Rome in 2020, the usual celebrations have had to be scaled back because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Here’s what you need to know about the history and traditions of St Peter and Paul’s Day.
That’s right, Rome has two patron saints
St Peter, first bishop of Rome and namesake of the world’s largest church, may be the first name that comes to mind, but St Paul is joint patron of the Eternal City. Both apostles were martyred in Rome within three years of each other and both are said to be buried at the two basilicas that bear their names today: St Peter’s at the Vatican, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls, to the south of the historic centre.
Both churches have matching statues of the two saints. You’ll also see them represented together on either side of the bridge leading to Castel Sant’Angelo, the riverside fortress that once protected the popes, St Peter holding the keys to heaven and St Paul the sword.
It’s a public holiday, but only in Rome
The capital celebrates June 29th as an official holiday, so be prepared to find some shops and offices closed and transport running on a reduced schedule.
But you can expect less disruption than you’d find on a nationwide holiday, with intercity transport operating as usual and most museums and visitor attractions remaining open. And if you work in Rome, you might even get the day off.
The celebrations are solemn…
As you’d expect, most of the festivities are concentrated in and around St Peter and Paul’s twin basilicas. They start with special vespers at St Paul’s on the evening of June 28th, followed by masses throughout the next day. The church concludes its celebrations with a solemn procession of the iron chains said to have held Paul as he awaited his death.