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Saint of the Day
Catholic saints are holy people and human people who lived extraordinary lives. Each saint the Church honors responded to God's invitation to use his or her unique gifts. God calls each one of us to be a saint. Click here to receive Saint of the Day in your email.

November 18
Dedication of Churches of Sts. Peter and Paul

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St. Peter’s is probably the most famous church in Christendom. Massive in scale and a veritable museum of art and architecture, it began on a much humbler scale. Vatican Hill was a simple cemetery where believers gathered at St. Peter’s tomb to pray. In 319 Constantine built a basilica on the site that stood for more than a thousand years until, despite numerous restorations, it threatened to collapse. In 1506, Pope Julius II ordered it razed and reconstructed, but the new basilica was not completed and dedicated for more than two centuries.

St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls stands near the Abaazia delle Tre Fontane, where St. Paul is believed to have been beheaded. The largest church in Rome until St. Peter’s was rebuilt, the basilica also rises over the traditional site of its namesake’s grave. The most recent edifice was constructed after a fire in 1823. The first basilica was also Constantine’s doing.

Constantine’s building projects enticed the first of a centuries-long parade of pilgrims to Rome. From the time the basilicas were first built until the empire crumbled under “barbarian” invasions, the two churches, although miles apart, were linked by a roofed colonnade of marble columns.


Peter, the rough fisherman whom Jesus named the rock on which the Church is built, and the educated Paul, reformed persecutor of Christians, Roman citizen and missionary to the Gentiles, are the original odd couple. The major similarity in their faith-journeys is the journey’s end: Both, according to tradition, died a martyr’s death in Rome—Peter on a cross and Paul beneath the sword. Their combined gifts shaped the early Church and believers have prayed at their tombs from the earliest days.


“It is extraordinarily interesting that Roman pilgrimage began at an…early time. Pilgrims did not wait for the Peace of the Church [Constantine’s edict of toleration] before they visited the tombs of the Apostles. They went to Rome a century before there were any public churches and when the Church was confined to the tituli [private homes] and the catacombs. The two great pilgrimage sites were exactly as today—the tombs, or memorials, of St. Peter upon the Vatican Hill and the tomb of St. Paul off the Ostian Way” (H.V. Morton, This Is Rome).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Saint of the Day for 11/17/2015 Saint of the Day for 11/19/2015

Saint of the Day
Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.

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