Today, transferred from tomorrow (in this country) we keep the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. They are venerated on the same day because they are thought to have been martyred in the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Nero, sparked by a big fire in Rome, in the late 60s AD. Traditionally St Peter was crucified upside down (being a member of a subject people) and St Paul beheaded (being a Roman citizen). The basilicas shown here are the traditional sites of their death and burial.
Because the pope is the successor of St Peter we normally pray in particular today for him: the gospel reading today from Matthew (16:13-19) is part of the basis for our belief that the authority and leadership which Jesus gave Simon Peter has been passed on his successors. As I have reflected the world and the Church need the leadership of Pope Francis so much at this time; his teaching ministry in the pandemic has been tremendous and inspiring. He needs our prayers, for his strength and resilience – and there are many who hate him, including some in the Church.
God bless and take care
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