Address on Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul

«Rome Is Celebrating in a Special Way,» Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 29, 2003 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave today, before reciting the Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. We are celebrating the solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, whom we venerate as «columns» of the Church.

Today the Diocese of Rome, which sinks its own roots in the testimony of the two great apostles, is celebrating in a special way. Peter, chosen by Christ as the «rock» on which to build his Church, was crucified not far from Vatican hill, and his tomb is the symbolic center of the Catholic faith. Paul, beheaded at the gates of Rome, is the model of evangelization and his Letters, a conspicuous part of the New Testament, do not cease to draw men and women of all times to Christ.

My heartfelt thanks to all who on this occasion offer special prayers for the Bishop of Rome, Successor of Peter, and to all those who, with their help, concretely sustain the service he renders to the People of God.

2. As every year, this afternoon, at 6, I will preside over the solemn eucharistic celebration in St. Peter’s Square, during which I will place on numerous metropolitan archbishops the sacred pallium, sign of communion with the Apostolic See.

According to an already established tradition, which is a source of great joy, a delegation from the ecumenical patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, will be present. The exchange of delegations between Rome and Constantinople, for their respective patronal feasts, goes well beyond an act of ecclesial courtesy. It reflects the profound and rooted intention to re-establish full communion between East and West. I thank Patriarch Bartholomew, who has entrusted the distinguished members of his delegation the task of representing him.

3. May the Lord enable us — thanks to these exchanges, strengthened by incessant prayer — to attain as soon as possible the full unity of the disciples of Christ.

May Mary protect and guide our ecclesial communities, so that they will always follow the teaching of the apostles, from whom they received the first proclamation of the faith.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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