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The Church honors these saints twice a year. Why?


Shutterstock I Dmitry Kalinovsky

Icône représentant saint Paul et saint Pierre.

Valdemar de Vaux - published on 02/18/24

Four important saints have two liturgical feast days during the year, when most have only one. Who are they, and why are they so important?

The Catholic liturgy contemplates the mystery of salvation in an “impressionistic” way, through a multitude of feasts that are many facets of the same reality: God is Creator and Savior, who has a benevolent plan of eternal life for everyone. In this string of celebrations, just a few names come up twice. Why? 

Sts. Peter and Paul

One example is St. Paul. On January 25, we celebrate the feast of his conversion. This radical reversal in his life was made possible by an encounter with the mercy of the Risen Lord. The “untimely born” apostle (1 Cor. 15:8) is also honored in the liturgy on June 29, along with St. Peter. On this day, the faithful celebrate the two apostles, pillars of the Church and tireless messengers of the faith who gave their lives in martyrdom.

Basilique Saint-Paul-hors-les-Murs

St. Paul has two days in his honor in the liturgical year because his life is as important as it is rich in teachings about divine love. But he’s not the only one.

St. Peter, already mentioned, is also celebrated on February 22, the day of his “Chair.” This feast points to Peter’s authority as the head of the apostles, the one on whose faith the Church was founded, and who was the guarantor of the unity of believers, as each of his successors must be.


St. Joseph and St. John the Baptist, celebrated twice

Two other great saints are given two days of liturgical prayer: St. Joseph, father of Jesus, and St. John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and forerunner.

“The angel appearing to St. Joseph” by Nicolas Mignard, 1664

St. Joseph is celebrated on March 19 and May 1. On the first date, he is honored as patron saint of the Church, which he cares for just as he cared chastely for the Son entrusted to him by the Lord, and his wife, Mary. On the second, he is honored as a worker. This is a way of doing justice to his discreet and fruitful protection of the workers who learn from his example and entrust themselves to his intercession. 

St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus, paiting by Giovan Battista Caracciolo

St. John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord, for his part, is honored on his nativity, June 24, and on the date of his martyrdom, on August 29. As the preface to this memorial indicates, John the Baptist preceded Christ in his birth and death. He thus prefigures the sacrifice of the Cross, where charity responds definitively to sin. The friend of the Bridegroom is thus the one who shows us Jesus and teaches us how we should follow him: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30)

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