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29th June - Feast of St. Peter and Paul

Written by Anne Newman - Friday, 28 June 2019

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul is a public holiday in Rome so many businesses and public offices are closed. The city celebrates it's patron saints with various religious rituals led by the Catholic church’s pope. Other events include music entertainment, fireworks and fairs.

St Peter was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles.

He spent most of his life preaching the Christian gospel after Jesus’ death.

He died by crucifixion around 67AD and is regarded as the Catholic church’s first pope.
St Paul, formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, was converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus shortly after Jesus Christ’s death.

He became an influential leader in the Christian church.

He was beheaded around the year 67AD during the Roman emperor Nero’s persecution of the Christians.

On the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, the Catholic pope places the pallium (a type of woollen cloak) on archbishops that were appointed over the past year. It serves as a reminder of religious significance of the bishops’ work and symbolizes the unity of the church.

In Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales the feast is observed as a holy day of obligation.

In the 16th century the historian John Stowe described the celebration of Midsummer:

“On the vigil of St Peter and Paul the Apostles, every man's door being shadowed with green birch, long fennel, St John's Wort, Orpin, white lillies and such like, garnished upon with garlands of beautiful flowers, had also lamps of glass, with oil burning in them all night, some hung branches of iron curiously wrought, containing hundreds of lamps lit at once, which made goodly show.”

In MALTA it is a public holiday and in Maltese is known as Imnarja. This feast is one of the oldest celebrated in Malta and Gozo going back many centuries, well before the arrival of the Knights of St John in 1530.

Way back, the Romans used to celebrate a pagan feast called luminaria, from which was derived the Maltese word "Imnarja". Light was offered by burning bonfires and candles. This feast has changed from the traditional village ‘festa' style and has developed a different type of merriment which is held in Buskett Garden on the Eve of 29th June. This is a small grove of trees situated about one kilometre from Rabat. The liturgical services are held in the Mdina Cathedral.

During the late afternoon, numerous horse and donkey races are held in a country lane situated just below and at some distance from Mdina. The contenders vie for the Palju (a traditional banner that is presented as a trophy to the winners of various categories of races). In olden times it used to be presented to the winners by the Grand Master of the Order.

The feast of St. Peter and St. Paul is also celebrated in Nadur, Gozo, this time in the usual festive manner that is normally held in towns and villages.

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Anne is sharing a series of events throughout the year - you can find them listed by clicking to the link Other Notable Dates and Festivals.