The Orthodox Church celebrated the Feast Day of the Apostles Paul and Peter on July 12. The occasion is very important for any Christian follower since the reverence of these two saints helped in the foundation and establishment of the Orthodox Church.

The Importance of Peter and Paul

Both Paul and Peter worked as pioneers and the most zealous of all in advancing the teachings of the Church. So it isn’t surprising to see to find a large number of heavenly icons depicting these individuals, extending from very old icons dating from the fourth century to present day icons that can be seen almost everywhere.

Recognising the Apostles

  • Peter. Peter is considered the most zealous and the most passionate among the Twelve Apostles. You can easily recognise him by his white, curly short hair and a short beard. In most of his antique icons, he is shown holding a scroll and is depicted wearing a belt with keys hanging from it. This is in reference to Jesus saying that he will hand him the keys to the kingdom of the heavens. He is often depicted in Icons together with Paul as both were considered martyrs in Rome. In most images, they are holding the church together and showing their shared prominence among the others.
  • Paul. Paul, who did not belong to the original Twelve Apostles is mostly known as being the disciple who was sent out and also known for his leadership among the other Apostles. He is mostly pictured with brown balding hair with a high forehead and beard. He is often carrying a Holy book, which signifies his contribution to the New Testament. He is also considered influential, especially with Luke, who followed him on his missionary trips.

Finding the Oldest Icons

The oldest icon of Jesus currently resides and well-preserved in Egypt found on Mount Sinai hidden in St Catherine’s Monastery, which dates back from the sixth century. The oldest painting of Mary, on the other hand, is found in the Catacomb of Priscilla and was made in the 2nd century.

Finding the Apostles Peter and Paul in Icons

With respect to the Holy Apostles Paul and Peter, the oldest depictions of them was a painting made in the middle of the 4th century. They were found in 2010 hidden in the Santa Tecla catacomb in Rome. The image found is regarded as the oldest existing icons of the two today, although there are still other older icons showing the two Apostles together they are mostly made as part of a narrative account.

Besides the antique icons found in Rome of the two Apostles, there are numerous astounding antique icons of the Apostles Paul and Peter. The oldest full-length icon depicting the two was painted around 1050. The painting came from the Cathedral of St. Sophia in Novgorod and was preserved until the time of the Russian Revolution. Presently this wonderful antique icon is shown in the Novgorod Art Museum for anyone to see.

Another stunning case of Russian icons of the two Apostles is the thirteenth-century painting found in the Belozersk in the Church of Sts Peter and Paul. It is now displayed as part of the collection of the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg.

The art collections where both the two apostles were found together are considered the most important antique Icons of the Apostles. While those are rare, there are unquestionably other numerous excellent religious Russian icons of these two noteworthy saints who were an essential part in the beginning of the Christian Church. These days, you can find these rare icons of the two Apostles in churches, museums, and trusted art collectors in different parts of the world today.