18 November 2009

Dedication of the Basilicas of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

18 NOVEMBER 2009. Today the Church marks the dedication of another two papal basilicas (like the dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran earlier this month) named after the Apostles Peter and Paul.

We read from today's breviary the following:
Anniversaries of dedication were celebrated in the Vatican Basilica of Saint Peter and in the Basilica of Saint Paul on the Ostian Way as early as the twelfth century. the two basilicas had been completed under Pope Sylvester and Siricius in the fourth century. More recently this commemoration was extended to the entire Latin Rite. Just as the Maternity of the Virgin Mother of God is celebrated on the anniversary of Saint Mary Major (August 5), so on this day we honor the two princes of Christ's apostles.
From ancient times, one of the places on earth most venerated by Christians is the tomb of Saint Peter in Rome. The Emperor Constantine erected a basilica over the tomb of Saint Peter on Vatican Hill and another over the place of Saint Paul's martyrdom on Ostian Way. Both were eventually consecrated by Saint Sylvester. Both Basilicas, however, from their original founding, have suffered destruction and been rebuilt:

 The Basilica of Saint Paul was destroyed by fire in 1823, but was rebuilt and consecrated by Pope Pius IX on 10 December 1854 on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a which dogma which he had just proclaimed. Today it is called the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls because it is an extraterritorial complex, lying outside of the official boundaries of the Vatican City-State.

Although the original structure of Saint Peter's basilica stood for more than 1,000 years, its neglect (especially during the Avignon papacy) caused it to fall into a state of disrepair. The present structure of the Basilica of Saint Peter was inagurated in 1506 by Pope Julius II and took 120 years to construct. Pope Urban VIII consecrated the completed basilica on 18 November 1626.


give apostolic protection to Your Church,
so that as she received the first revelation
about You from the apostles
she may also receive through them
an increase of heavenly grace
until the end of time.


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