Today, June 29, the one true Church celebrates the Solemnity of Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in honor of their martyrdom in Rome. As attested in Scripture, St. Simon Peter of Bethsaida was the leader of the Apostles, whom Christ our Lord made the rock (‘kepha’) of His Church, with the keys of the kingdom (St. Matthew 16:18-19) and the mission to His “lambs” and “sheep” (St. John 21:15-17). St. Peter later became Bishop of Rome, so that his successors as bishops of Rome (later called “Popes”) exercised his primacy in the Church. His work of leadership was complemented by the work of teaching of St. Paul of Tarsus, the former persecutor of Christians who became its first great missionary and theologian. St. Paul was instrumental in weaning the Church away from her Palestinian infancy and into its destiny as a truly catholic Church that would teach and baptize all nations.

The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul are thus the two pillars of the church of Rome, to which they left an apostolic heritage that, by the will of Christ, forms the bedrock of the universal Church. This heritage, manifested in the teaching authority of the Bishops of Rome down to our present Pope Benedict XVI, has allowed the Church remain “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 St. Timothy 3:15) against error and the “gates of hell”. Thus around 180 AD, St. Irenaeus of Lyons, a student of St. Polycarp who learned under the Holy Apostle John, invoked against the innovations of the Gnostics–

“that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere.” (Against Heresies, III, iii, 2)

The following is a selected list of ebooks on Sts. Peter and Paul that may be read or downloaded online legally and for free:

  • The Apostles and the First Disciples, by Pope Benedict XVI (General Audiences 2006-2007). May be read online through Catechesis of the Popes. This provides a collection of the teaching addresses of Pope Benedict on the Origins of the Church; the Apostles; and the First Disciples. [N.B., According to Catechesis of the Popes: “This catechesis is available in book form from Our Sunday Visitor and Ignatius Press. Our Sunday Visitor has also published a corresponding Study Guide which is available for purchase and as a free downloadable.pdf file. OSV has also published an Illustrated Edition of The Apostles.”]
  • Cathedra Petri: or, The titles and prerogatives of St. Peter, and of his see and successors; as described by the early fathers, ecclesiastical writers, and councils of the church, by C.F.B. Allnatt (London: Burns and Oates, 1883). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library. The 1879 edition is available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Christ and the Church, by Pope Benedict XVI (General Audiences 2006 to 2011). May be read online at the EWTN Library. This provides a collection of the teaching addresses of Pope Benedict on Christ and the Church, Apostolic Tradition, and the lives and works of Catholic teachers from the founding of the Church to modern times, including the Apostles, the Eastern and Western Fathers, and the Scholastics.
  • A Commentary by Writers of the First Five Centuries on the Place of St. Peter in the New Testament: and that of St. Peter’s successors in the Church, by James Waterworth (London: Thomas Baker, 1871). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • An Exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul, and of the Catholic Epistles; Consisting of an Introduction to each Epistle, and Analysis of each Chapter, a Paraphrase of the Sacred Text, and a Commentary, Embracing Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Dogmatical, Interspersed with Moral Reflections, Volume I, Sixth Edition, Revised, Enlarged, and Corrected, by the Most Rev. John MacEvilly, D.D., Archbishop of Tuam (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1898). With letters from Pope Leo XIII and various prelates. Available in various formats at Internet Archive.
  • An Exposition of the Epistles of St. Paul, and of the Catholic Epistles; Consisting of an Introduction to each Epistle, and Analysis of each Chapter, a Paraphrase of the Sacred Text, and a Commentary, Embracing Notes, Critical, Explanatory, and Dogmatical, Interspersed with Moral Reflections, Volume II, Sixth Edition, Revised, Enlarged, and Corrected, by the Most Rev. John MacEvilly, D.D., Archbishop of Tuam (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1898). Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library. A copy of the Fourth Edition (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son; New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1891) is available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Peter’s name; or, A divine credential in a name, by Smyth-Vaudry, Telesphor (Techny, Ill.: Printed by the Society of the Divine Word, 1909). Available at Internet Archive.
  • The see of St. Peter, the rock of the church, the source of jurisdiction, and the centre of unity, by Thomas William Allies (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1896) Apologetics. Available at Internet Archive.
  • St. Peter at Rome: being an historical dissertation; with an appendix, containing reference to the discussion held in Rome, February 9th and 10th, 1872, in the Hall of the Pontificia Academia Tiberina, between three Catholic priests and three evangelical ministers, concerning the coming of St. Peter to Rome, by John Stewart M’Corry (London: Burns and Oates,1874). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • St. Peter, his name and his office: as set forth in holy scripture, by T. W. Allies (1852). Available at Internet Archive.
  • The Tradition of the Syriac Church of Antioch, Concerning the Primacy and the Prerogatives of St. Peter and of his Successors the Roman Pontiffs, by the Most Rev. Cyril Benham Benni, Syriac Archbishop of Mossul (Nineveh), translated under the direction of the author by Joseph Gagliardi  (London: Burns, Oates, & Co., 1871). Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library, with a second copy at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • The Year of St. Paul, by Pope Benedict XVI (General Audiences 2008-2009). May be read online through Catechesis of the Popes. This provides a collection of the teaching addresses of Pope Benedict on the life, teaching, and legacy of the Apostle Paul. [N.B., According to Catechesis of the Popes: “These audiences are available in book form from Ignatius Press.”]

For more legally free ebooks, check the index of titles and the index of subjects.

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