Pope gives to the main orthodox leader the relic of St. Peter from his private chapel

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The feast of St. Peter and St. Paul is always celebrated in a special way in Rome. This is because it is the city where both these apostles suffered martyrdom.

On the day of the feast the pope blessed the pallium of the metropolitan archbishops appointed in the last year. It is a celebration that serves to emphasize the unity of the whole Church with the pope.

During his homily Pope Francis explained how it was possible for God to choose Peter and Paul as pillars of the Church. This is despite the serious sins they committed.

He put his trust in them in two repentant sinners. We may wonder why the Lord chose not to give us two witnesses of utter integrity, with clean records and impeccable lives? Why Peter, when there was John? Why Paul, and not Barnabas?

The pope explained the strength of Peter and Paul was not so much in their integrity, but in them being witnesses of forgiveness. They knew what mercy meant and therefore knew who God was.

Both understood that holiness does not consist in exalting but rather in humbling oneself. Holiness is not a contest, but a question of entrusting our own poverty each day to the Lord, who does great things for those who are lowly.

Pope Francis said this solemnity is a good occasion for Christians to ask themselves if their relationship with God resembles that of Peter and Paul. 

He invited them to examine sincerely and discover if they believe in Christ or just simply curious.

He is not looking for religion editors, much less 'front page' or 'statistical' Christians. He is looking for witnesses who say to him each day: 'Lord, you are my life.'

Among those present was a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The pope presented them with a priceless gift. He gave them the relic of St. Peter and Pope Paul VI, as a sign of brotherhood and closeness. They had originally been in the pontifical apartments.

Patriarch Bartholomew greatly appreciated this gesture. His delegates defined it as “an immense step toward unity.”

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