Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified thee by their martyrdom: Grant that thy Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by thy Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
–1979 Book of Common Prayer
Let us pray to be true to the faith which has come to us through the apostles Peter and Paul.
Father in heaven, the light of your revelation brought Peter and Paul the gift of faith in Jesus your Son. Through their prayers may we always give thanks for your life given us in Christ Jesus, and for having been enriched by him in all knowledge and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
O Peter the Apostle, the most sweet mouth of Christ God proclaimed thee as the
blessed and secure treasury of the Kingdom. Therefore we sing thy praises.
Jesus the Lord has established upon the rock of thy divine teaching the unshakable
Church in which we glorify thee, O Peter.
Peter is in body higher than the angels, for Christ said he would sit with him as a
judge when openly He would come again.
Thou didst disdain all delightful things, for thou wast smitten by love of the Master
and the desire for the salvation of all, and thou didst choose to bear witness to Him, O
blessed Paul. Now intercede for the whole world.
As a noble emulator of the Master, thou wast sincerely clothed in Him, O Paul, and
thou wast all things to all men so that thou mightest gain all things and save the peoples;
and thou didst truly save the ends of the earth, netting them for Christ.
Christ gave thee citizenship in heaven, O worthy and blessed Apostle Paul, for thou
wast a faithful servant and administrator of His mysteries, and here thou didst not desire
a lasting city.
The Lord has looked down upon thee and renewed my being, and He Who is mighty
has done great things, as thou didst say, O all-blameless Mother of God. And through
thee my God has saved me from corruption, for He is compassionate.
-Orthodox Beatitude Verses, Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul
The history of the feast:
As early as the fourth century a feast was celebrated in memory of Sts. Peter and Paul on the same day, although the day was not the same in the East as in Rome. The Syrian Martyrology of the end of the fourth century, which is an excerpt from a Greek catalogue of saints from Asia Minor, gives the following feasts in connexion with Christmas (25 Dec.): 26 Dec., St. Stephen; 27 Dec., Sts. James and John; 28 Dec., Sts. Peter and Paul. In St. Gregory of Nyssa's panegyric on St. Basil we are also informed that these feasts of the Apostles and St. Stephen follow immediately after Christmas. The Armenians celebrated the feast also on 27 Dec.; the Nestorians on the second Friday after the Epiphany. It is evident that 28 (27) Dec. was (like 26 Dec. for St. Stephen) arbitrarily selected, no tradition concerning the date of the saints' death being forthcoming. The chief feast of Sts. Peter and Paul was kept in Rome on 29 June as early as the third or fourth century. The list of feasts of the martyrs in the Chronograph of Philocalus appends this notice to the date- "III. Kal. Jul. Petri in Catacumbas et Pauli Ostiense Tusco et Basso Cose." (=the year 258) . The "Martyrologium Hieronyminanum" has, in the Berne MS., the following notice for 29 June: "Romae via Aurelia natale sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, Petri in Vaticano, Pauli in via Ostiensi, utrumque in catacumbas, passi sub Nerone, Basso et Tusco consulibus" (ed. de Rossi--Duchesne, 84).
The date 258 in the notices shows that from this year the memory of the two Apostles was celebrated on 29 June in the Via Appia ad Catacumbas (near San Sebastiano fuori le mura), because on this date the remains of the Apostles were translated thither (see above). Later, perhaps on the building of the church over the graves on the Vatican and in the Via Ostiensis, the remains were restored to their former resting-place: Peter's to the Vatican Basilica and Paul's to the church on the Via Ostiensis. In the place Ad Catacumbas a church was also built as early as the fourth century in honour of the two Apostles. From 258 their principal feast was kept on 29 June, on which date solemn Divine Service was held in the above-mentioned three churches from ancient times (Duchesne, "Origines du culte chretien", 5th ed., Paris, 1909, 271 sqq., 283 sqq.; Urbain, "Ein Martyrologium der christl. Gemeinde zu Rom an Anfang des 5. Jahrh.", Leipzig, 1901, 169 sqq.; Kellner, "Heortologie", 3rd ed., Freiburg, 1911, 210 sqq.). Legend sought to explain the temporary occupation by the Apostles of the grave Ad Catacumbas by supposing that, shortly after their death, the Oriental Christians wished to steal their bodies and bring them to the East. This whole story is evidently a product of popular legend. (Concerning the Feast of the Chair of Peter, see CHAIR OF PETER.)
-The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia
In the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the Church Militant gets Her orders, through the general leadership of Peter, and the edifying preaching of Paul. May we always be ready to hear the voices of our forerunners, whose commander destroyed death upon the hard wood of the Cross, even Jesus Christ our Lord.