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Today is the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. They’re both remembered on this day because tradition tells us they were martyred on the same day — St. Paul by beheading, St. Peter by being crucified head down. (He didn’t feel worthy to die in the same way as his Lord. Think about that for an example of humility.) Jesus had told Peter that when he was old, one day he would stretch out his hands and someone would lead him where he did not want to go…but he went anyway.

Both men are commemorated separately as well: St. Paul on 25 January for his conversion (found in Acts 9:1-19), and St. Peter on 18 Jan for his confession of Jesus as the Christ (see Matthew 16:13-16). If you consider what’s remembered on each of those days, you see that those days aren’t really about Peter or Paul — who are, after all, only men. Peter denied Him and Paul called himself the chief of sinners. No, those days are about Christ: their confession of Him, and the end result of that confession — the crown of life that awaits for all God’s faithful.

Here’s a snippet from Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, written ca. AD 97. Clement was Bishop of Rome at the time, and he wrote to the Corinthian church to settle them down after some turmoil, among other things. He refers to Peter & Paul’s martyrdoms. When Clement refers to the extreme limits of the west, he probably means Spain. It seems like that’s as far as Paul got before God called him home. May God make us all faithful confessors of His name, amen.

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death.Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labours and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelledto flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and come to the extreme limit of the west, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.

— The First Epistle of Clement, Ch.V