St Peter was chosen by Christ to be the first Pope on earth, otherwise known as His successor in the Catholic Church. He was given the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Mt 16:13-19). St Peter, the fisherman of Galilee, and his brother Andrew were called by Christ to be apostles, prior to being Christ’s successor. St Paul did not discover Christ until after His crucifixion.
Both St Peter and Paul were martyred by Emperor Nero. St Peter was crucified upside down in Rome near the Vatican and is buried at the site of St Peter’s Basilica. St Paul was beheaded outside the walls of Rome where the basilica bearing his name now stands.
St Peter and Paul weren’t always exemplary Christians and made mistakes. St Peter denied the Lord three times and remained indifferent towards Him as He carried the cross up to Calvary. Jesus questioned Peter about whether he really loved Him. He asked: ‘’Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:15). St Paul persecuted the Church of God before his conversion. The Lord asked him: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4).
It is fair to question why Jesus called St Peter and Paul to be His followers despite their defects and shortcomings. God does not call people to be His apostles because they are perfect. However, it’s important to note that He had a merciful heart and worked through the heart of St Peter and Paul because they repented and were sorry for their wrongdoing. Through their struggle to be followers of Christ, He worked through them with His grace to become great saints.
On the feast day St Peter and Paul, we can ask for their intercession to be more faithful apostles by being good witnesses of the Catholic faith in our own personal circumstances. The feast is also an opportunity to grow in deeper sorrow for our sins and to see the sacrament of Confession as a way to run back into the arms of the merciful heart of Christ.