The Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, Chief of the Apostles, is celebrated on June 29th (July 12 Old Style) each year to remember that these two Apostles lead the Apostolic work of evangelization and also the strengthening of the whole Church in Its early formative years. St. Peter was called by his brother the Holy Apostle Andrew from his fisherman’s net to follow Christ, which he did with fervor and gusto. He walked on water, healed the sick, fed the multitudes, and worked many miracles while His Master Christ was alive, and even his shadow cured the ill after Christ’s Ascension. He was the first to reach out to the Gentiles by ministering to St. Cornelius after seeing that the Lord had made all things clean by His Death and Resurrection, and was the leader of the Jewish Disciples.
St. Paul was a Roman by birth, and was a Pharisee of Parisees, the student of Gamaliel the Pharisee who was on the Sanhedrin (the ruling Council of the Jewish leaders at the time of Christ). At first breathing fire and persecution towards the Church in his mistaken zeal for the Jewish Law, St. Paul was humbled and illumined by Christ on the road to Damascus, and became the chief Apostle to the Gentiles by his fearless and fiery preaching. He was sent by the Holy Spirit to preach deliverance to those in each city that Christ had already prepared to receive this blessed Light and Faith. Even the handkerchiefs touched to his face worked miracles.
Both Ss. Peter and Paul died for their bold preaching and holy lives, suffering in Rome in about 64 A.D. under the wicked Emperor Nero. This icon is from Patmos and was probably painted by the iconographer Angelos at the end of the 15th century. It is a masterpiece of post Byzantine art.