Thoughts and Vestments for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

One of the very most "Roman" of feast days is the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul -- June 29th. These two figures loom large not only in terms of the apostles, they also do so in relation to the Church in and of Rome; in fact, this day is still an annual public holiday in Rome and Ss. Peter and Paul are considered the patron saints of the Eternal City. Of course this is no mere modern development; the fourth century Roman Christian Poet, Prudentius, already speaks of how Roman Christians would "hurry throughout Rome rejoicing" and "surge through the streets" on this feast day.

The Handbook of Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome further notes:
In the 4th century the feast was kept with very great magnificence, and with public illuminations and banquets. Jerome mentions in his 31st letter to Eustochium her gift to him of fruit, and sweets in the he form of doves, on this feast. Paulinus of Nola paid his annual visit to Rome on this day, and frequently mentions this solemnity.

It has always been the custom to suspend outside the great door of the Vatican a large tub made of box leaves. Armellini has found from an inscription stone that this was a piscatorial emblem; tubs are still used on the coasts of the Mediterranean near Rome, in which the fish just caught in the net are put by the fishermen, in order to keep them alive. So we find this simple sign of the fisherman hung outside the most splendid temple of the world on this day of rejoicing. Within the basilica the statue of S. Peter is decorated with a cope.


The Pope used to say 2 masses on this day, one at S. Peter's and one at S. Paul's, in the time of Prudentius.
The liturgical colour of the day is, of course, red, recognizing their respective martyrdoms. Here is what the Martyrlogium Romanum says for them today:
At Rome, the birthday of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, who suffered martyrdom on the same day, under the emperor Nero. Within the city the former was crucified with his head downwards and buried in the Vatican near the Triumphal way where he is venerated by the whole world. The latter was put to the sword and buried on the Ostian way where he receives similar honours. 
Two years ago, LAJ shared Prudentius' poem about The Passion of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and this year I thought this feast might give us a good reason to look at some red vestments, both antique and contemporary.  To begin, fittingly, a papal mantum:

A red papal mantum seems particularly appropriate to begin with given the very Roman and papal association of this feast and also of this particular vestment (though at one time the mantum, which is essentially a cope with a very long train, was more widely used).  Also worth drawing your attention to here are the intersecting pattern of flowers found on the main body of the mantum. This particular style of floral ornamentation was very commonly used in Italo-Roman vestment vestment designs from the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries onward. In fact, some readers may recognize this stylistic feature from a contemporary red chasuble we recently featured by Sacra Domus Aurea that employed similar decoration (thus nicely combining different stylistic qualities from different eras, much like the city of Rome itself has done so masterfully throughout its history):

Turning back to the antique, Bergamo has been in the news for all the wrong reasons these past months but here is something much more edifying to feature them by. coming in the form of a solemn Mass set from the early 20th century, heavily embroidered with gold thread and in a style that was very common within the 19th century:

Of course, if your tastes tend toward earlier styles, here is a chasuble coming from the 16th century -- though one later trimmed back in its shape of course. Fittingly for today's feast, the orphrey includes images of Ss. Peter and Paul amongst various other martyrs:

Going back even further still, the following came originally from the 13th century being later re-worked in the later 1500's (and ever-present tradition it would seem, regardless of the particular era). The chasuble is part of a fuller set and includes, amongst other imagery, depictions of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Photo by Alessandro Iazeolla (Source)
Detail showing Ss. Peter and Paul
One final piece for today comes from the late 1500's, a chasuble of Pope Sixtus V.

It's difficult to tell for certain given the condition, but this chasuble seems to at least include St. Paul -- and in my experience, wherever St. Paul is found, St. Peter almost always follows.

While some of these vestments are arguably more specific to today's feast than others, all are suited to its particular solemnity and importance of this feast in the Roman church.

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