Tradition says these two apostles, honoured since the earliest days, were martyred in Rome. Peter, a fisherman, was chosen by Jesus to be his disciple. After Simon confessed that Jesus was the Christ, Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter and told him that it was on this rock (petra) that he would build his Church. Acts records that, after the Ascension, Peter was indeed the “chief of the Apostles”. From the middle of the 3rd century onward, documents show that the bishops of Rome were recognized as the successors of Peter.

Paul was born in Tarsus, a Roman citizen raised and educated as a Pharisee. His experience of the risen Christ resulted in his conversion from a zealous persecutor of Christians to an apostle. In the Acts of the Apostles his friend Luke describes Paul’s missionary journeys between the years 45 and 57, his return to Jerusalem, his subsequent arrest and his appeal to Caesar. Here history ends but tradition tells us that Paul was martyred for the faith about the year 66. Paul called himself the “apostle of the Gentiles”.

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