Peter And Paul Feast Celebrates Unity, Says Aide

Calls Rome a Symbol of Christian Communion

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 ( As it was 2,000 years ago, Rome is once again a sign of communion for Catholics and Christians of other confessions, says a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, commented on the significance of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, what he called the «most ‘Roman’ of the feasts,» on the latest episode of Octava Dies.
«Effectively,» Father Lombardi said, «Rome is what it is for the universal Church precisely because it is the place of the martyrdom and the tombs of the two great Apostles.»
He noted that «on this feast the new archbishops, appointed this year, come to Rome to receive the pallium from the hands of the Pope, which they wear during liturgical celebrations as a sign of their union with him in leading their Churches and in the care of the communion of the universal Church.»
The priest added that «the palliums are kept in the niche closest to Peter’s tomb, under the main altar of the basilica, in line with the peak of the great cupola, which indicates precisely the heart of communion with the Church.»
«On this feast,» he said, «a delegation also comes to Rome from the patriarch of Constantinople, to show the fraternity between the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Church, in the hope of greater communion.»
«Whoever prays, hopes and works for the unity of the community of believers in Christ has looked to Rome for 2,000 years,» Father Lombardi affirmed.

«The pilgrim comes to Rome to rediscover the witnesses of this troubled history of passion for unity,» he observed.

Watchful gaze

The priest stated, «The gaze of the Apostles, venerated and present here since ancient times — as is also testified to by the very recent discoveries in the Catacombs of St. Tecla — accompanies us on the journey.»

Last week in a press conference, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, announced the discovery of the oldest known images of the Apostles Andrew and John in what is thought to be the tomb of a Roman noblewoman in the Catacombs of St. Tecla.

The images are part of a set of four apostles — Peter, Paul, Andrew and John — surrounding Christ the Good Shepherd. The discovery of Paul, also thought to be the oldest known image of him, was announced last year. There are known images of Peter thought to be older
Father Lombardi concluded, «The strong faith of the Successor of Peter, his reading of the events guided by the Spirit, remains the surest point of reference for those who want to follow Jesus Christ, together with the other faithful, in the concrete occurrence of our history.»

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