Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome in 2021

Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome in 2021
Fireworks over Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, 1775. Image by Jacob Philipp Hackert , via Klassik Foundation Weimar

  Dates of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Rome
2022 Wed, Jun 29Regional Holiday
2021 Tue, Jun 29Regional Holiday
2020 Mon, Jun 29Regional Holiday
2019 Sat, Jun 29Regional Holiday
2018 Fri, Jun 29Regional Holiday
  Summary
The day commemorates the martyrdom of two saints, the two great Apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul
  Local name
La Festa di San Pietro e Paolo
Related holidays

When is the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul?

This feast day is celebrated as a regional public holiday in Rome on June 29th. The day commemorates the martyrdom of two saints, St. Peter and St. Paul, said to have taken place on this date in 67AD. St. Paul and St. Peter are patron saints of the Eternal City. They are both said to have founded the Church in Rome, and that Peter was the first Pope. 

All public offices in Rome will be closed. Many shops and supermarkets may close at lunchtime.

Traditions of the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Peter was the leader of the apostles and the first pope. Paul was born Saul, but converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus.

They had been imprisoned in Rome and both had foreseen their approaching death. It is said that they were martyred at the command of Emperor Nero.

Even though they were killed on the same day, their method of execution would have differed. Saint Peter was crucified, whereas Saint Paul would have been beheaded with a sword as he was a Roman citizen and afforded a quicker method of execution.

This is probably one of the oldest feast days celebrated in the Christian calendar. In 2010, images of Peter and Paul were found on the wall of catacombs dating back to the 4th Century AD.

If you are in Rome on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, make sure you check out the historic infiorata floral display at St Peter’s, in Piazza Pio XII and along Via della Conciliazione. The ground is covered with multi-coloured flower carpets that feature images made up of thousands of petals, with salt and coloured sawdust.

The tradition dates back to 1625 but was abandoned for 400 years before being restored in 2011.

In the evening of Jun 29th, the annual Girandola (the 'pinwheel') fireworks display lights up the sky at Pincio, over Piazza del Popolo.

The spectacle was said to have inspired by the Stromboli volcano, to have been created by Michelangelo, and perfected by Bernini to become a glorious light show that drew crowds to the banks of the Tiber from all over Europe. 

First taking place in 1481​ ​a spectacular volley of up to 4,500 rockets would erupt every year from the roofs of Castel Sant'Angelo to thrill onlookers. 

After a hiatus in the 19th century, the festival was revived and continues to this day, marked by a breathtaking display set to classical music.

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