Saints Peter and Paul were the two greatest Apostles, and the two most important leaders of the early Church. Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, and followed Jesus throughout His public ministry. Saul of Tarsus (who changed his name to Paul upon becoming a Christian) was originally a Pharisee who persecuted the early Church before his conversion. Peter was largely uneducated; Paul’s careful education helped him become one of the greatest religious thinkers of all history, as his numerous New Testament writings attest.
Peter was directly appointed by Christ in the presence of the other Apostles (Mt 16:18-19); Paul received his authority from Christ during a personal conversion and spiritual experience (Acts 22:6-10, 14-16). Both men considered themselves to be profoundly unworthy (Lk 5:8; 1 Cor 15:9). Each was capable of fulfilling his mission only through Christ’s grace (Lk 22:31-32; 2 Cor 12:7-10).
Peter and especially Paul helped the Church realize that the gospel was to be shared not only with the Jews, but with the whole world. According to legend, Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome during Nero’s persecution about the year 64; Paul, as a Roman citizen, was beheaded around the year 67.