IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
ONE GOD. AMEN
Today the church celebrates St.Peter and St. Paul's martyrdom at the hand the Roman empire for preaching the Christian faith. St.Petros died on an upside down cross because he said he was not worthy to die the same way His Lord Jesus Christ did. St.Paulos was beheaded by a sword. May their prayers be with us. Here is the full story below from the synaxarium (synxar):
On this day took place the martyrdom of the two great apostles, the chiefs of the apostles, Peter and Paul. Peter was from Bethsaida, and he was a fisherman. Our Lord chose him on the second day following that whereon He was baptized, and He chose Andrew his brother before him. And having chosen Saint Peter, He made him chief of the apostles, and he continued to minister to our Redeemer until the time of His death and Passion. And in him, there was faith, and zeal, and love for God, and because of this our Lord made him the chief of the apostles. Now the apostles were divided about the matter of our Redeemer, and some of them said that He was Elias, and some that He was Jeremiah or one of the other prophets, and he confessed before them all, saying, “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Thereupon our Lord proclaimed him blessed, and He made him the Rock of the Church and gave him the keys of the Kingdom of heaven. After this he received the grace of the Holy Spirit-Paraclete, and he went in among the rational wolves of this world and preached among them in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was crucified, and he converted a countless number of the people, and brought them into the Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ; and God wrought great and innumerable signs and wonders by his hands. And he wrote two Epistles and sent them to the believers, and he spoke to Mark and translated for him the Gospel, which is known as his.
Then he came into the city of Rome, and he went up into the great theatre wherein all the nobles were gathered together, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Blessed are the merciful, for one shall have mercy on them,” and what followeth (Matthew 5). And when the four stone pillars, which formed the four corners of the tribune, heard his words, they said “Amen”; and the multitudes heard this voice. And there was a certain man in whom a Satan had lived for seventy years, and the Satan cast him down at that moment, and went forth from him, because of his hearing the voice from the pillars of stone. And when the nobles heard that voice they feared with a great fear, and they came to their dwelling places wondering in their minds. And one of the nobles whose name was Caustus came to a woman whose name was ‘Akrosya, and told her what had happened, and how Peter had taught concerning the forsaking of this world, and [on showing] mercy to the poor. And when this woman heard his voice, she woke up in her heart, and said, “This is a hard matter.” And then they promised each other that they would do everything, which Saint Peter taught, and they distributed all their riches among the poor and destitute folk. And after those days the emperor sent to Caustus, and told him to come and consult with him concerning an imperial matter. And when Caustus heard this he was sorry, because he had no money to give to the emperor, and because he had no money for the necessary expenses of the journey. And he took counsel with his wife, [saying,] “He maketh a pretence to me with many words.” And his wife said unto him, “Go, only the God of Saint Peter can make [matters] good for thee”; and he came to the emperor who received him with great joy. And after a year he returned to his house, and behold, his two sons were dead, and his wife was afraid to tell him the truth. And she made a pretence to him, with much speaking, but at length, she told him, and on hearing it he sorrowed. And she also said unto him, “O my lord, let us pray to God,” and they prayed to God with a whole heart and there came a voice which said, “O Caustus, O wife of Caustus, because ye have received the words of Peter, My disciple, I will give you back your sons alive”; and straightway their sons rose from the dead, and all those who heard [of this] glorified God. Now one of those who rose was Clement, who became a disciple of this apostle. And Saint Peter told him all the mysteries which he had seen, and how he had seen our Lord Jesus Christ going up into heaven in the flesh, and he delivered to him the secret books which it is not meet that men should see, and this Clement he made a bishop, and his brother he made a deacon. And moreover, Saint Peter saw a great and honorable similitude of the Lady of us all, Mary, the Pure, the God-bearer. He saw a cloud, which was like unto a bow, and in the cloud, which appeared upon it a tabernacle of light, and in the innermost part thereof sat, in the flesh, our holy Lady, the two-fold Virgin Mary, the mother of our Lord in the flesh. And angels surrounded her, holding swords and spears of fire in their hands, and they said, “O blessed woman, thou art the vineyard, the beautiful one wherefrom grew the grapes of salvation. Blessed art thou, O Upper Chamber, for thou didst carry in thy womb the Lamb of God, and the Lord of lords. Rejoice, O Mother of light, Mother of mercy. Rejoice, O Throne of salvation, on whom sat the God of gods. Rejoice, O Lady of all men.” And when the angels had finished saluting her, our Lord Jesus Christ appeared and spoke with her, and none knew what He said unto her except Mary; and straightway there was an earthquake. And Peter also saw mysteries, which are ineffable. And after this, our Lord commanded Peter to preach in all the cities, and he preached the preaching of the Holy Gospel.
And he went to the seacoast and came to the city of Emmaus, and Leda (Lydda). And one day whilst he was praying in the city of Iyope (Joppa) a cloud of light enveloped him, and there came down a sheet, which was spread out, from heaven to earth, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed creatures, and all kinds of birds, and the similitude of swine. And a voice cried to him from heaven, saying, “Arise, Peter kill and eat.” And he said unto Him, “O my Lord, I cannot kill and eat what is unclean.” And again a voice called him, saying, “What God hath cleansed let not man hold to be unclean”; and he heard this voice three times. And each time the voice called him, a finger made a sign to him and pointed to the beast, which was like unto a pig. And that sheet went up and was withdrawn into heaven, and he marveled at what he had seen and he understood that [it signified] the reception of the Gentiles who were to turn to God, and he told the holy Apostles his brethren this. And then Saint Peter came with Saint John to the city of Antioch, as our Lord Jesus Christ had commanded them; and Peter sent John on to the gates of the city, so that he might learn the affairs of the city, and he asked concerning the report of Antioch. And he found outside the city certain evil men, who spoke words of insult to him and wanted to kill him. And he returned weeping and angry, and said unto Saint Peter, “If these common folk are as bad as this, what shall we do before the kings of this city, and the nobles thereof? Even if we come into it and preach in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, how shall we teach the Faith?” And Peter said unto him, “O my beloved, be not dismayed by the words of these men, and be not sorrowful, for He Who hath brought us from Jerusalem hither in one night, that is to say a journey of twenty days on horses, will prosper our work.” And after that they came into the city, and preached in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the men of the city and the priests of the idols gathered together and beat them severely, and treated them with ignominy, and made a mock of them, and cut off one half of the hair of their heads, and tied them up in a tower and shut the doors on them; and they prayed to God to help them. And our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was surrounded with the Cherubim and the Seraphim, appeared unto them, and said unto them, “O Peter and John, fear ye not and be not sorrowful, for I will be with you to the end of the world. And marvel not because they have shaved the center of your heads to make sport of you, for this shall be unto you a sign of which to boast, and for hair of honor. And it shall be a sign of priesthood to every man who shall follow you in the Church, and who shall offer My Body, even as ye do now. To the priest who dieth with this crown upon his head I will give remission of sins”; and having said this to them He went up into heaven with [great] glory. Then by the commandment of God, Saint Paul arrived, and the saints met and talked together. And when he saw Saint John he said unto them, “What have the men of this city done to thee?” And Saint John said unto him, “Marvel not at me, for the chief of the Apostles also [hath] this symbol.” And Saint Paul went to the city of Antioch, and held converse with the men as he wished, and he pretended that he would worship the idols; and he released the saints and took them away. And he asked them about their work, and he told them that he also was a disciple of our Lord Christ. And they worked miracles there, and they opened the eyes of those who had been blind from their mother’s wombs. And they also made to live the king’s son who had been dead for three months, and whose body had decayed and become corruption; and the king and his wife held converse with Saint Peter and believed. And Saint Peter smote the ground and water flowed forth, and he baptized the king and all the men of Antioch in the Name of Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and they built a church there. And after this the believing men who were in Laodicea sent to him [a messenger to say] that the river Kisaros had drowned many men, and flooded their villages, and their flocks; and Peter and Paul sent him to Saint John, the beloved. And as the saint was going along the road, he found a sheep which had become separated from its flock, and he sent it on, saying, “Go to the river Kisaros, and say unto it, ‘The disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ hath sent me to thee, and he telleth thee to become fettered by the word of God.” And the sheep went and did as the saint commanded it, and the river became quiet (i.e. subsided). And when the infidels saw this miracle a countless multitude of them believed. And then he passed on to the city of Rome, and he preached therein and performed many signs and wonders, and he conquered Simon, the magician, who had resisted him, and he cast him down from his rule over the souls of men. And at this miracle many men believed, and the concubines of ‘Akrepos, the legate of the city, believed through him, and preserved [their] purity, and many women withdrew from their husbands. And because of this the people took counsel to kill him, and the wife of Altabius, a friend of the king, sent a message to Saint Peter advising him to go forth from the city of Rome, and the believing brethren likewise told him to do this, and he went forth from the city alone, and he disguised himself so that no one might know him.
And he found our Lord coming into the city in the form in which he had first known Him, and he bowed low before Him, and said unto Him, “Whither goest thou, [my] Lord?” And He said unto him, “To Rome, that I may be crucified.” And Saint Peter said unto Him, “Lord, wilt Thou be crucified a second time?” And Saint Peter remembered that He had said unto him, “When thou art grown up, another shall gird thee and take thee whither thou wouldst not go.” And straightway he returned to the city, and told the brethren everything, which had taken place between our Lord Christ [and himself], and they were very sad. And when Emperor Nero heard the report of him, he seized him and commanded the soldiers to crucify him. And Peter begged and entreated that they would crucify him head downwards, saying, “My Lord Jesus Christ was crucified standing upright, and it is meet for me to be crucified head downwards.” And when they crucified him he spoke unto the believers the word of life, and he strengthened them in the True Faith, and after this, he delivered up his soul into the hand of God. Salutation to thee, O Peter.
And on this day also became a martyr Saint Paul, the tongue of oil, the tongue of Christ, the tongue of sweet perfume, the lamp of Christians, the fountain of life, and the well of wisdom, whose name being interpreted is “leader, commander, he who is praised,” or according to another interpretation, “haven, tranquility, quietness and keeping silent.” This Saint Paul was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; and his kinsfolk called his name “Saul,” the well-known interpretation of which is, “given.” He was a young man of handsome appearance, upright in stature, and ruddy, like the rind of a pomegranate. His face was open, his nose was large, above his eyes was kohl, his cheeks were [like] an open rose, and his beard was full. He was learned in the Law of the Torah, and he was jealous for the same. And the disciples, who believed through the holy Apostles, were exceedingly afraid of him, because he had received authority from the high priest, who wrote to him an order, with his own hand, commanding him to bind with fetters all those who preached in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And as Saul and those who were with him were journeying along the road from the city of Jerusalem to the city of Damascus, a light from heaven shone upon him, and he fell upon his face on the ground, and he heard a voice which said unto him, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute Me? It is bad for thee to kick against sharp goads.”
And he said unto Him, “Who art thou, Lord?” And He answered and said unto him, “I am that Jesus, the Nazarene, Whom thou persecutest. But rise up, and come into the city of Damascus, and there they will tell thee what thou must do.” And the men of Jerusalem who were with him stood up, and they heard His voice but there was none whom they saw. And Saul rose up from the earth, and though his eyes were open he saw nothing and leading him they brought him to Damascus, where he remained for three days, not eating, not drinking, and not seeing. And there was a certain man in the city of Damascus, who was one of the holy apostles and whose name was Hananya (Ananias), and our Lord appeared unto him and said unto him, “Hananya (Ananias),” and he said, “Behold me, my Lord.” And the Lord said unto him, “Rise up, and go to the street which is called ‘Straight’ and enquire there in the house of Sayda [for a man] whose name is Saul, of the city of Tarsus.” And Hananya (Ananias) said unto Him, “My Lord, I have heard about that man and of all the evil which he hath done to the saints of Jerusalem and having obtained authority from the high-priest, he hath come hither to imprison all those who bear Thy Name.” And our Lord said unto him, “I have set him to be a chosen vessel for Me, and he shall go and carry My Name among the peoples and kings of Israel. And I will show him how great things he must suffer for My Name.” And Saint Hananya (Ananias) went and came to his house, and found him praying, and he laid his hand upon him, and he prayed over him that he might see. And he said unto him, “Saul, my brother, my Lord Jesus Christ, Who appeared unto thee on the road as thou camest hither, hath sent me unto thee that thou mayest see, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And straightway there went out of Paul’s eyes as it were scales, and he could see, and he rose up, and was baptized, and ate food, and became strong, and he remained in Damascus a few days with the holy apostles and preached in their Synagogues. And he taught concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, saying, “He is the Son of God,” and all those who heard him marveled, saying, “Is not this the man who killed those who were called by this name in Jerusalem and here also?” And this Saint Paul the apostle was filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit-Paraclete, and he proclaimed boldly the Faith of righteousness. And his jealousy for the Law of our Lord Jesus Christ was double that which he had had for the Law of the Torah. And he went unto all the ends of the world and preached the Name of our Lord Who was crucified and a multitude of people who could not be numbered believed through him. And great tribulation came [upon him], and many beatings. And the Jews shut him up in prison, and bound him with fetters, and sunk him in the sea, and took him into deserts, and tortured him with every kind of torture. And behold, it is written in his Epistles, and in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, saying, “The Holy Spirit separated Saul and Barnabas for the work which He required of them” And for this reason they went into the land of the Greeks and performed many miracles, some of them took place when they went around the island of Kuala. And they came to a city, the name of which is Yafus (Paphos), and they found a certain Jewish magician whose name was Elymas, who withstood them and wished to keep the deputy of the city from them and from the Faith. And Saint Paul rebuked him and said unto him, “Behold, the hand of God is upon thee. Thou shalt become blind, and shalt not see the sun until the time when the appointed time shall have come”; and straightway the eyes of Elymas clouded over, and became sightless, and he enquired for someone to lead him. And when the governor of the city saw him, he marveled and believed in God. And then they went to the district of Lukanya (Lycania) and Lestran (Lystra), and Darben (Derbe), and taught there. And there was in the city of Lestran (Lystra) a certain man with twisted feet, and he was born thus from his mother’s womb, and he had never walked, and he heard Saint Paul speaking. And Saint Paul knew that the man had in him the faith whereby he would be healed, and he said unto him, “In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ rise up and stand upon thy feet”; and straightway he rose up and walked, and when the people saw him they believed. And whilst he was there, certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium came and stoned the blessed Saint Paul, and they dragged him outside the city, for they thought that he was dead. And on the following day, when Saint Barnabas was near the city, he appointed a priest to each of the churches there. And then he went to Phrygia and Galatia and on towards Tiro’ada (Troad), and they passed over into Macedonia. And they found there a girl who was under the power of a demon, and she brought to her owners her earnings, which were much, and she followed after them crying out and saying, “These servants of God shall teach us the way of life”; and she pressed upon Saint Paul. And Saint Paul turned and rebuked the unclean spirit, which was on her, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the girl was healed. And after this, he went out to the city of Halab, and he made to live the mother of Timothy, whose name was Badreman, who had been dead. There the people wished him to sacrifice to the god of the city, [but he refused to do so]. And they cast him into a furnace, and he stretched out his arms in the form of the Cross, and the men of the city saw the sign of the Cross with their own eyes, and they entreated him to come out, and he went forth, being injured in no wise, and they prostrated themselves before him. And all the people believed through them, and even Anestus, the governor of the city, believed; and the priests of the seventy idols fled and hid themselves. And Saint Paul called the figure of gold, which was in the form of a guza, and it came and stood up in the form of a lion in the middle of the temple. And Saint Paul said unto it, “Where are the priests who worship thee?” And the lion answered and said unto him, “Wait, O my lord, until I am able to tell thee where they are.” And the lion went to where they were hidden, and brought out one of the priests, holding him by the neck, which was in his mouth, and he dragged him along like a dead man and cast him down among the people; and thus he did to the seventy of them. And when the people saw [this] they wanted to kill the priests. And Saint Paul said, “This day life and not death is seemly in this city,” and he baptized them all. And he said unto the image of the guza, which was a lion, “Fear not, O lion, because thou hast ministered unto me, thy existence shall be in the desert until I want thee”; and he dwelt in the desert of the lion. And Saint Paul went ... and came into the city. And the Jews heard of the report of him, and they gathered together against him, and seized him, and tortured him. And they also brought two oxen, and they lifted up the feet of Saint Paul, and tied him between two oxen, with ‘Antekos his disciple, and they dragged them through the streets of the city, over the sharp stones, until their blood flowed like water, and their bodies were torn and cut, and their bones were visible. And the disciples prayed to God, and the two oxen, and the man who was driving them, turned into stone in the midst of the city, where they stood still, and they are there until this day.
And the people having seen this told the governor, and he became wroth, and commanded the soldiers to bring them before him, and they brought them, [the people] stoning them as they did so. And the governor was wroth with Saint Paul, and he said unto him, “O man, behold, I will torture thee.” And he commanded them to bring two brass bulls, and they brought bitumen, and pitch, and sulfur, and fat and mixed them together, and they smeared the outside and the inside of the two brass bulls therewith, and they cast the disciples into them. Then they took them into a furnace, and they lighted a fire therein, and kept it burning for three days and three nights. And our Lord Jesus Christ came, with His angels, and He made the furnace to move from its place into the grounds of the offices of the government, and the flames blew backwards, and consumed the men of the city. And a voice from heaven called those who remained, and bade them to gather together to the furnace (?). And the lion, which Paul had sent into the desert, came and cried out with [his] voice, saying, “Believe ye in the Lord Jesus Christ, [the God] of Saint Paul.” And the lion came back, and said unto Saint Paul and Sekantes, “Get forth from the fire, so that the men of this city may not know”; and they went forth from the red-hot furnace alive, and the hair of their heads was not singed, and there was no smell of fire upon them. And straightway all the people cried out, saying, “We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Nazarene,” and Paul baptized them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And he made Sekantes a priest, and having built there a church, he departed to the city of Athens. Then he went to other cities with Saint Philip the apostle and preached therein, and the elders of the city seized them, and bound them hand and foot, and put chains about their necks, and they made iron helmets to put over their heads. And they also made figures of the hand, with palms and fingers of iron, and they thrust them over their hands and along their arms, until each hand and arm was covered with iron, and then they drove nails through them. And they also made figures of the shoulders in iron, which reached up to the neck and they drove nails into them, back and front; and they made plates of iron to envelop their limbs and to cover their bodies in such a way that no part of the body was visible. And they nailed plates of iron over their sides, and they made shoes of iron for their feet, and they drove nails through their hands, and the soles of their feet, and their thighs; and they made plates (?) in the form of a covering. And men who prepared roots and drugs came, and brought a talent of lead, and huge vessel of brass, and seven pound of refined fat. And they mixed with it grease, and wax, and ox-fat, and many roots for burning in the fire, and bitumen, and pitch, and sulfur, and tar, and seven pounds of colophony resin, and glue (?), and clematis wood (i.e. brushwood), and charcoal, and very much wood. And they brought bitumen, which had been prepared, and melted it in the [brass] vessel, and they daubed it on the iron plates, inside which were on the bodies of the saints, until they took the shape of their bodies. And they poured over the iron plates, inside which were the saints, the lead which they had melted, until it reached from their feet to their heads. And they set them up by the side of a bushy pine tree, which was five cubits high from the ground to the top thereof, and they lighted a fire about the apostles with the leaves and branches of vines from which the fruit had been plucked, and the flames rose up over their bodies. And the apostles prayed to God, and He put mercy into the heart of one of the nobles, who said unto the soldiers. “Release them.” And when they had released them, they removed the plates of iron form their bodies and their skin peeled off, and came away like flakes of iron, and the blood of the apostles dripped down upon the ground. And Satan entered into the hearts of the men of the city, and they put the apostles back again into the fire, but an angel came down, and extinguished the fire on them, and a bright cloud came and rained on them and enshrouded the bodies of the saints. And when the people of this city saw this, they all believed. Now the saints were tortured by stoning and by being shot at with arrows. [And the apostles] raised many from the dead. And after this Saint Paul departed to another city, and preached the preaching of the Holy Gospel. And our Lord Jesus Christ appeared unto him, and said unto him, “Peace be unto thee, O Paul, My chosen one. Whosoever shall celebrate thy commemoration, and call upon thy name, and build a church in thy name, and shall visit the church and pray therein, and make votive offerings to it, and shall perform mercy on the day of thy commemoration in any way whatsoever, all these I will establish with thee in the kingdom of My Father, which is in the heavens. And whosoever shall build churches in thy name, I will see that My angels have them under their protection.” And He promised him many things, and gave him a salute with His holy mouth, and went up into heaven. And then they journeyed about to many cities. And he came into the great city of Tarikon, and he saw our Lady Mary, the mother of light, and she commanded him to teach in that city; and she told him many things, and she gave him “Peace,” and went up into heaven. And then Saint Paul came into the city of Rome, and preached therein, and many of the men thereof believed through him, and he baptized them with holy Christian baptism; and he wrote to them twelve Epistles, and that [to the Romans] is the first of his Epistles. And after this the Emperor Nero seized him and tortured him severely, and delivered him up that the soldiers might cut off his head. And as he was passing along with the executioner, a certain maiden who was a kinswoman of Emperor Nero, and who had believed through him on our Lord Jesus Christ, met him, and when she saw him with the executioner she wept.
And he comforted her, and said unto her, “Give me thy cloak, and I will return [it] to thee soon”; and she gave him her cloak. And Saint Paul went with the executioner to the place where they cut off heads and having bowed his head to the executioner, he covered his face with the cloak of the maiden, and the executioner cut off the holy head of Saint Paul and left it wrapped in the cloak of the maiden. And the maiden said [to the executioner], “Where is Paul?” And he said, “Behold, he is lying in the place where they cut off heads, and his head is covered up in thy cloak.” And she answered and said unto him, “Thou liest. Behold the saints Peter and Paul have this moment left me, and they were arrayed in the apparel of kings, and they had decorated crowns on their heads, and they gave me my cloak. And behold, this is it as thou canst see”; and she showed it to the executioner, and to those who were with him, and they marveled thereat and believed on our Lord Jesus Christ. And God wrought by the hands of Paul the apostle signs and wonders which cannot be counted, and the people used to lay the sick folk in their beds by the road on which Saint Paul passed, and when his shadow fell upon them they recovered from their sicknesses immediately.
Salutation to Paul. Salutation to Peter and Paul.