29th June: How Rome celebrates its patron saints’ day
June 29th is the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the two patron saints of Rome, and public holiday within the capital.
That’s right, Rome has two patron saints: St Peter, first bishop of Rome and namesake of the world’s largest church, may be the first name that comes to mind, but St Paul is joint patron of the Eternal City. Both apostles were martyred in Rome within three years of each other and both are said to be buried at the two basilicas that bear their names today, St Peter’s at the Vatican, and St Paul’s Outside the Walls, to the south of the historic centre.
Both churches have matching statues of the two saints. You’ll also see them represented together on either side of the bridge leading to Castel Sant’Angelo, the riverside fortress that once protected the popes, St Peter holding the keys to heaven and St Paul the sword.
The capital celebrates June 29th as an official holiday, so be prepared to find some shops and offices closed and transport running on a reduced schedule.
Aside from the liturgical celebrations you can expect in both churches and actually in all churches of town, Rome lays on quite a show in honour of its two patron saints. The most unique festivity takes place outside the Vatican: starting in St Peter’s Square, volunteers build a spectacular carpet of flowers that leads down Via della Conciliazione and towards the River Tiber.
If you are in Rome, you can’t definitely miss it!