This Saturday, June 29th, is a very special day for Rome and its citizens. Indeed, it’s the day when is celebrated the Patrons Saints of the city: St. Peter and St. Paul. This day, as for Christmas and Easter, is very important for Roman people and rooted into their cultural identity. Therefore, the city animates itself with beautiful and interesting events!
Before we start with that, let’s dive in the historical and religious background of this festivity.
Being devoted Apostles of Jesus, Peter and Paul have both played fundamental roles in the building and spreading of Christian religion during the Ancient Roman Empire. For this the emperor Nerone, who still didn’t accept the religion they announced, has persecuted them.
According to the Christian tradition, they were executed on the same day: Peter, as a non-roman citizen, was crucified upside-down under his personal request, because he wasn’t worth of dying like Jesus. Paul, a roman citizen, was beheaded. His head bounced three time on the floor, and three springs of water miraculously burst on each point it has touched the ground. Today there is a beautiful Monastery in Rome called Le Tre Fontane (the three fountains) in memory of the three fountains generated during this legendary episode.
Apart from its religious value, this day is particularly known for the Girandola: a magnificent pyrotechnics show with colorful fireworks that light up the whole sky and reflect on the water of Tiber River. This event usually takes place on the Pincio Terrace (free entrance from Piazza del Popolo) around 9pm and attracts people from all over the world.
Then we have the traditional Infiorata, a flower festival establish during the 17th century by the architecture Benedetto Drei. Professional people from all over Italy will come and work for two days to create these marvelous carpets of flowers on Viale della Conciliazione and Piazza Pio XII, structured as spectacular paintings that highlight the artistic beauty of the street in front of St. Peter Basilica. These flower installments will stay there the whole day, before or after the traditional Angelus of the Pope at 12 pm in Piazza San Pietro.
In the end, there are obviously various celebrations in churches all around the city. Particularly in our area there is St. Paul Basilica, and on that day there will be a special mess, an open-door market in the park and fireworks at the end of the day.