LEWISTON — All are welcome to join area Catholics in a special walking pilgrimage on Tuesday, June 29, to celebrate the Feast of Saints Peter & Paul.

The pilgrimage will begin at Sacred Heart Church, located on 24 Sacred Heart Place in Auburn, at 1 p.m. Following a short prayer service, the group will walk about three miles to Holy Cross Church on 1080 Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Fifteen minutes of prayer will begin at 2:30 p.m. Then, the participants will make the 2.2-mile journey to Holy Family Church on 607 Sabattus Street in Lewiston, stopping to pray outside of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center before arriving at the church around 4 p.m. Participants will take a break to eat and drink with confession being offered from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The group will then complete the final leg of the journey with a mile plus walk to the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul on 122 Ash Street, where a tour will be offered at 6:30 p.m. prior to participation in a special 7 p.m. Mass.

Individuals and families are welcome to join in part or all of the schedule.

The Church celebrates this feast day each year on June 29. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry, and martyrdom there.

St. Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion. Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God’s flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.

St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church. Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Saul’s conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.

Since 1938, the Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul has stood as an architectural wonder and a testament to the faith and sacrifice of the French-Canadian immigrants who ensured its completion. It was raised to the status of a “basilica” by the Vatican in 2004 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.