Rome celebrates its patron saints Peter and Paul with public holiday

Rome marks Festa di SS. Pietro e Paolo on 29 June.  

Rome celebrates its patron saints, Peter and Paul, with a public holiday in the Italian capital on Tuesday 29 June, with many Romans taking Monday off to make a four-day 'ponte' weekend.

Last year, due to the covid-19 crisis, the traditional celebratory events associated with the annual event were cancelled to avoid attracting large crowds of people.

These events, which are set to be skipped again this year, include the infiorata - the multi-coloured carpet of flower petals normally held in front of St Peter's - and the Girandola fireworks display that lights up the sky over Piazza del Popolo. 

The idea of Michelangelo, perfected later by Bernini, the 16-minute firework display was first introduced in 1481. Over the centuries the historic spectacle has inspired writers and artists such as Dickens, Belli and Piranesi.

The annual holiday on 29 June is to mark the liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, in a celebration that dates back to ancient Christian times.

The date commemorates the death of the two saints, both of whom are said to be buried at the two basilicas that bear their names: St Peter's and St Paul's Outside the Walls.

Image: Girandola fireworks at Pincio on 29 June 2019. Photo credit: Vatican News