How does one celebrate a 1,950th anniversary? Not much in the way of precedent for that, and this year’s anniversary of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul was left unmarked. With the quincentenary of the Reformation and the Fatima centennial, there was only so much attention available to be paid.

While the dates of the martyrdoms of Peter and Paul are not absolutely certain, they took place during the persecution of Nero (64 to 68 AD) and have been fixed traditionally in the year 67. In 1867, Blessed Pius IX marked the 1,800th anniversary of Peter’s martyrdom, and in 1967, Blessed Paul VI marked the 1,900th of Peter and Paul together.

Moreover, Paul VI chose the 1,900th anniversary to be a Year of Faith, from the feast of Peter and Paul, June 29, 1967, to the same feast in 1968. The year was Paul VI’s response to the widespread crisis that beset the Church immediately after the Council, when fundamental doctrines of the faith were called into question. The year concluded with Paul VI issuing his extraordinary Credo of the People of God, a detailed profession of the ancient and apostolic faith.

The Nicene Creed speaks of the Church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. The Church in our age has been more conscious of the first three, and neglected the fourth.

Concern for the unity of the Church, with great ecumenical (and inter-religious) progress made in theological dialogue, common prayer and cooperation in the corporal works of mercy, has never been more intense.

The holiness of the Church, despite a more widespread knowledge of her corruption, is also a hallmark of our time, with saints being canonised in record numbers and new movements aplenty arising to emphasise the call to holiness of the lay faithful in particular.

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