Solemnity: from Latin solet and annus — a yearly celebration.
And what an important celebration it is today when the church honors Saints Peter and Paul, martyrs for Christ who helped build the foundation for the Church. While today is a holy day of obligation in Europe, it is not one of the six in the United States. (Read between the lines: if it’s important enough to be a Holy Day in Europe, I’m thinking it might be good to get to daily Mass today!)
Two very different men, Peter and Paul might be surprised to be sharing a solemnity together. Peter was a humble fisherman and the first one Jesus called to follow him. Jesus commissioned him to be our leader in the faith. Paul was sophisticated and highly educated; never “knew” Jesus during his lifetime, yet he became one of the Church’s fearless preachers. As different as Peter and Paul were, they worked to bring unity to the Church and were united for Christ in their deaths.
In honor of today’s solemnity, today is especially prime for praying for our Holy Father (the successor of Saint Peter), for all Bishops of the Church, and for unity and solidarity of all Christians.
Interesting Tidbit: This is one of two days of the year when the statue of Saint Peter near the altar of confession in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome is splendidly dressed in red vestments. And the other? The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter on February 22.
The thought I’m pondering today? Why do Peter and Paul share a solemnity versus having a unique feast day each to himself. In all I’ve read, I don’t think I clearly understand the Church’s wisdom of coupling the two saints today. I can speculate, but I’ve never seen it clearly explained. Thoughts or facts to share with me, please?