SS Peter and Paul the Holy Apostles
IT came to pass, after Paul went out of the island Gaudomeleta, that he came to
that Paul demanded to come to Caesar. Having fallen, therefore, into great grief and
much despondency, they said among themselves: It does not please him that he
alone has afflicted all our brethren and parents in Judaea and Samaria, and in all
Palestine; and he has not been pleased with these, but, behold, he comes here also,
having through imposition asked Caesar to destroy us.
Having therefore made an assembly against Paul, and having considered many
proposals, it seemed good to them to go to Nero the emperor, to ask him not to
allow Paul to come to Rome. Having therefore got in readiness not a few presents,
and having carried them with them, with supplication they came before him, saying:
We beseech thee, O good emperor, send orders into all the governments of your
worship, to the effect that Paul is not to come near these parts; because this Paul,
having afflicted all the nation of our fathers, has been seeking to come hither to
destroy us also. And the affliction, O most worshipful emperor, which we have from
Peter is enough for us.
And the Emperor Nero, having heard these things, answered them: It is according to
your wish. And we write to all our governments that he shall not on any account
come to anchor in the parts of Italy. And they also  informed Simon the magian,
having sent for him, that, as has been said, he should not come into the parts of
Italy. And while they were thus doing, some of those that had repented out of the
nations, and that had been baptized at the preaching of Peter, sent elders to Paul
with a letter to the following effect: Paul, dear servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, and
brother of Peter, the first of the apostles, we have heard from the rabbis of the Jews
that are in this Rome, the greatest of the cities, that they have asked Caesar to
send into all his governments, in order that, wherever thou mayst be found, thou
mayst be put to death. But we have believed, and do believe, that as God does not
separate the two great lights which He has made, so He is not to part you from each
other, that is, neither Peter from Paul, nor Paul from Peter; but we positively believe
in our Lord Jesus Christ, into whom we have been baptized, that we have become
worthy also of your teaching.
And Paul, having received the two men sent with the letter on the twentieth of the
month of May, became eager to go, and gave thanks to the Lord and Master Jesus
Christ. And having sailed from Gaudomeleta, he did not now come through Africa to
the parts of Italy, but ran to Sicily, until he came to the city of Syracuse with the
two then who had been sent from Rome to him. And having sailed thence, he came
to Rhegium of Calabria, and from Rhegium he crossed to Mesina, and there ordained
a bishop, Bacchylus by name. And when he came out of Mesina he sailed to
Didymus, and remained there one night. And having sailed thence, he came to
Pontiole on the second day. And Dioscorus the shipmaster, who brought him to
Syracuse, sympathizing with Paul because he had delivered his son from death,
having left his own ship in Syracuse, accompanied him to Pontiole. And some of
Peter’s disciples having been found there, and having received Paul, exhorted him to
stay with them. And he stayed a week, in hiding, because of the command of
Caesar. And all the toparchs were watching to seize and kill him. But Dioscorus the
shipmaster, being himself also bald, wearing his shipmaster’s dress, and speaking
boldly, on the first day went out into the city of Pontiole. Thinking therefore that he
was Paul, they seized him, and beheaded him, and sent his head to Caesar.
Caesar therefore, having summoned the first men of the Jews, announced to them,
saying: Rejoice with great joy, for Paul your enemy is dead. And he showed them the
head. Having therefore made great rejoicing on that day, which was the fourteenth
of the month of June, each of the Jews fully believed it. And Paul, being in Pontiole,
and having heard that Dioscorus had been beheaded, being grieved with great grief,
gazing into the height of the heaven, said: O Lord Almighty in heaven, who hast
appeared to me in every place whither I have gone on account of Thine only-
begotten Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, punish this city, and bring out all who have
believed in God and followed His word. He said to them therefore: Follow me: And
going forth from Pontiole with those who Met believed in the word of God, they came
to a place called Baias; and looking up with their eyes, they all see that city called
Pontiole sunk into the sea-shore about one fathom; and there it is until this day, for
a remembrance, under the sea. And having gone forth from Baias, they went to
Gaitas, and there he taught the word of God. And he stayed there three days in the
house of Erasmus, whom Peter sent from Rome to teach the Gospel of God. And
having come forth from Gaitas, he came to the castle called Taracinas, and stayed
there seven days in the house of Caesarius the deacon, whom Peter
had ordained by the laying on of hands. And sailing thence, be came by the river to a
place called Tribus Tabernes.
And those who bad been saved out of the city of Pontiole that had been swallowed
up, reported to Caesar in Rome that Pontiole had been swallowed up, with all its
multitude. And the emperor, being in great grief on account of the city, having
summoned the chief of the Jews, said to them: Behold, on account of what I heard
from you, I have caused Paul to be beheaded, and on account of this the city has
been swallowed up. And the chief of the Jews said to Caesar: Most worshipful
emperor, did we not say to thee that he troubled all the country of the East, and
perverted our fathers? It is better therefore, most worshipful emperor, that one city
be destroyed, and not the seat of thine empire; for this had Rome to suffer. And the
emperor, having heard their words, was appeased. And Paul stayed in Tribus
Tabernes four days. And departing thence, he came to Appii Forum, which is called
Vicusarape; and having slept there that night, he saw one sitting on a golden chair,
and a multitude of blacks standing beside him, saying: I have today made a son
murder his father. Another said: And I have made a house fall, and kill parents with
children. And they reported to him many evil deeds — some of one kind, some of
another. And another coming, reported to him: I have managed that the bishop
Juvenalius, whom Peter ordained, should sleep with the abbess Juliana. And having
heard all these things when sleeping in that Appii Forum, near Vicusarape,
straightway and immediately be sent to Rome one of those who had followed him
from Pontiole to the bishop Juvenalius, telling him this same thing which had just
been done. And on the following day, Juvenalius, running, threw himself at the feet
of Peter, weeping and lamenting, and saying what had just befallen; and he
recounted to him the matter, and said: I believe that this is the light which thou
wast awaiting. And Peter said to him: How is it possible that it is he when he is
dead? And Juvenalius the bishop took to Peter him that had been sent by Paul, and
be reported to him that he was alive, and on his way, and that he was at Appii
Forum. And Peter thanked and glorified the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then having summoned his disciples that believed, he sent them to Paul as far as
Tribus Tabernes. And the distance from Rome to Tribus Tabernes is thirty-eight
miles. And Paul seeing them, having given thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, took
courage; and departing thence, they slept in the city called Aricia.
And a report went about in the city of Rome that Paul the brother of Peter was
coming. And those that believed in God rejoiced with great joy. And there was great
consternation among the Jews; and having gone to Simon the magian, they
entreated him, saying: Report to the emperor that Paul is not dead, but that he is
alive, and has come. And Simon said to the Jews: What head is it, then, which came
to Caesar from Pontiole? Was it not bald also? And Paul having come to Rome, great
fear fell upon the Jews. They came together therefore to him, and exhorted him,
saying: Vindicate the faith in which thou wast born; for it is not right that thou,
being a Hebrew, and of the Hebrews, shouldst call thyself teacher of Gentiles, and
vindicator of the uncircumcised; and, being thyself circumcised, that thou shouldst
bring to nought the faith of the circumcision. And when thou seest Peter, contend
against his teaching, because be has destroyed all the bulwarks of our law; for he
has prevented the keeping of Sabbaths and new moons, and the holidays appointed
by the law. And Paul, answering, said to them: That I am a true Jew, by this you can
prove; because also you have been able to keep the Sabbath, and to observe the
true circumcision; for assuredly on the day of the Sabbath God rested from all His
works. We have fathers, and patriarchs, and the law. What, then, does Peter preach
in
the kingdom of the Gentiles? But if he shall wish to bring in any new teaching,
without any tumult, and envy, and trouble, send him word, that we may see, and in
your presence I shall convict him. But if his teaching be true, supported by the book
and testimony of the Hebrews, it becomes all of us to submit to him.
Paul saying these and such like things, the Jews went and said to Peter: Paul of the
Hebrews has come, and entreats thee to come to him, since those who have brought
him say that he cannot meet whomsoever he may wish until he appear before
Caesar. And Peter having heard, rejoiced with great joy; and rising up, immediately
went to him. And seeing each other, they wept for joy; and long embracing each
other, they bedewed each other with tears. And when Paul had related to Peter the
substance of all his doings, and how, through the disasters of the ship, he had
come, Peter also told him what he had suffered from Simon the magian, and all his
plots. And having told these things, he went away towards evening. And in the
morning of the following day, at dawn, behold, Peter coming, finds a multitude of
the Jews before Paul’s door. And there was a great uproar between the Christian
Jews and the Gentiles. For, on the one hand, the Jews said: We are a chosen race, a
royal priesthood, the friends of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets,
with whom God spake, to whom He showed His own mysteries and His great
wonders. But you of the Gentiles are no great thing in your lineage; if otherwise, you
have become polluted and abominable by idols and graven images. While the Jews
were saying such things, and such-like, those of the Gentiles answered, saying: We,
when we heard the truth, straightway followed it, having abandoned our errors. But
you, both knowing the mighty deeds of your fathers, and seeing the signs of the
prophets, and having received the law, and gone through the sea with dry feet, and
seen your enemies sunk in its depths, and the pillar of fire by night and of cloud by
day shining upon you, and manna having been given to you out of heaven, and water
flowing to you out of a rock, — after all these things you fashioned to yourselves the
idol of a calf, and worshipped the graven image. But we, having seen none of the
signs, believe to be a Savior the God whom you have forsaken in unbelief.
While they were contending in these and such-like words, the Apostle Paul said that
they ought not to make such attacks upon each other, but that they should rather
give heed to this, that God had fulfilled His promises which He swore to Abraham our
father, that in his seed he should inherit all the nations. For there is no respect of
persons with God. As many as have sinned in law shall be judged according to law,
and as many as have sinned without law shall perish without law. But we, brethren,
ought to thank God that, according to His mercy, He has chosen us to be a holy
people to Himself: so that in this we ought to boast, whether Jews or Greeks; for
you are all one in the belief of His name. And Paul having thus spoken, both the
Jews and they of the Gentiles were appeased. But the rulers of the Jews assailed
Peter. And Peter, when they accused him of having renounced their synagogues,
said: Hear, brethren, the holy Spirit about the patriarch David, promising, Of the fruit
of thy womb shall He set upon thy throne. Him therefore to whom the Father said,
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee, the chief priests through envy
crucified; but that He might accomplish the salvation of the world, it was allowed
that He should suffer all these things. Just as, therefore, from the side of Adam Eve
was created, so also from the side of Christ was created the Church, which has no
spot nor blemish. In Him, therefore, God has opened an entrance to all the sons of
Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in order that they may be in the faith of profession
towards Him, and have life and salvation in His name. Turn, therefore, and enter into
the joy of your father Abraham, because God hath fulfilled what He promised to him.
Whence also the prophet says, The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a
priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek. For a priest He became upon the
cross, when He offered the whole burnt-offering of His own body and blood as a
sacrifice for all the world.
And Peter saying this and such-like, the most part of the people believed. And it
happened also that Nero’s wife Libia, and the yoke-fellow of Agrippa the prefect,
Agrippina by name, thus believed, so that also they went away from beside their
own husbands. And on account of the teaching of Paul, many, despising military life,
clung to God; so that even from the emperor’s bed-chamber some came to him, and
having become Christians, were no longer willing to return to the army or the palace.
When, consequently, the people were making a seditious murmuring, Simon, moved
with zeal, rouses himself, and began to say many evil things about Peter, saying
that he was a wizard and a cheat. And they believed him, wondering at his miracles;
for he made a brazen serpent move itself, and stone statues to laugh and move
themselves, and himself to run and suddenly to be raised into the air. But as a set-
off to these, Peter healed the sick by a word, by praying made the blind to see, put
demons to flight by a command; sometimes he even raised the dead. And he said to
the people that they should not only flee from Simon’s deceit, but also that they
should expose him, that they might not seem to be slaves to the devil. And thus it
happened that all pious men abhorred Simon the magian, and proclaimed him
impious.
But those who adhered to Simon strongly affirmed Peter to be a magian, bearing
false witness as many of them as were with Simon the magian; so that the matter
came even to the ears of Nero the Caesar, and he gave order to bring Simon the
magian before him. And he, coming in, stood before him, and began suddenly to
assume different forms, so that on a sudden he became a child, and after a little an
old man, and at other times a young man; for he changed himself both in face and
stature into different forms, and was in a frenzy, having the devil as his servant. And
Nero beholding this, supposed him to be truly the son of God; but the Apostle Peter
showed him to be both a liar and a wizard, base and impious and apostate, and in
all things opposed to the truth of God, and that nothing yet remained except that
his wickedness, being made apparent by the command of God, might be made
manifest to them all.
Then Simon, having gone in to Nero, said: Hear, O good emperor: I am the son of
God come down from heaven. Until now I have endured Peter only calling himself an
apostle; but now he has doubled the evil: for Paul also himself teaches the same
things, and having his mind turned against me, is said to preach along with him; in
reference to whom, if thou shalt not contrive their destruction, it is very plain that
thy kingdom cannot stand. Then Nero, filled with concern, ordered to bring them
speedily before him. And on the following day Simon the magian, and Peter and Paul
the apostles of Christ, having come in to Nero, Simon said: These are the disciples
of the Nazarene, and it is not at all well that they should be of the people of the
Jews, Nero said: What is a Nazarene? Simon said: There is a city of Judah which has
always been opposed to us, called Nazareth, and to it the teacher of these men
belonged. Nero said: God commands us to love every man; why, then, dost thou
persecute them? Simon said: This is a race of men who have turned aside all Judaea
from believing in me. Nero said to Peter: Why are you thus unbelieving, according to
your race? Then Peter said to Simon: Thou hast been able to impose upon all, but
upon me never; and those who have been deceived, God has through me recalled
from their error. And since thou hast learned by experience that thou canst not get
the better of me, I wonder with what face thou boastest thyself before the emperor,
and supposest that through thy magic art thou shalt overcome the disciples of
Christ. Nero said: Who is Christ? Peter said: He is what this Simon the magian
affirms himself to be; but this is a most wicked man, and his works are of the devil.
But if thou wishest to know, O good emperor, the things that have been done in
Judaea about Christ, take the writings of Pontius Pilate sent to Claudius, and thus
thou wilt know all.
And Nero ordered them to be brought, and to he read in their presence; and they
were to the following effect: — Pontius Pilate to Claudius, greeting. There has lately
happened an event which I myself was concerned in. For the Jews through envy have
inflicted on themselves, and those coming after them, dreadful judgments. Their
fathers had promises that their God would send them his holy one from heaven, who
according to reason should be called their king, and he had promised to send him to
the earth by means of a virgin. He, then, when I was procurator, came into Judaea.
And they saw him enlightening the blind, cleansing lepers, healing paralytics,
expelling demons from men, raising the dead, subduing the winds, walking upon the
waves of the sea, and doing many other wonders, and all the people of the Jews
calling him  Son of God. Then the chief priests, moved with envy against him, seized
him, and delivered him to me; and telling one lie after another, they said that he
was a wizard, and did contrary to their law. And I, having believed that these things
were so, gave him up, after scourging him, to their will;
and they crucified him, and after he was buried set guards over him. But he, while
my soldiers were guarding him, rose on the third day. And to such a degree was the
wickedness of the Jews inflamed against him, that they gave money to the soldiers,
saying, Say his disciples have stolen his body. But they, having taken the money,
were not able to keep silence as to what had happened; for they have testified that
they have seen him (after he was) risen, and that they have received money from
the Jews. These things, therefore, have I reported, that no one should falsely speak
otherwise, and that thou shouldest not suppose that the falsehoods of the Jews are
to be believed.
And the letter having been read, Nero said: Tell me, Peter, were all these things
thus done by him? Peter said: They were, with your permission, O good emperor. For
this Simon is full of lies and deceit, even if it should seem that he is what he is not
— a God. And in Christ there is all excellent victory through God and through man,
which that incomprehensible glory assumed which through man deigned to come to
the assistance of men. But in this Simon there are two essences, of man and of
devil, who through man endeavors to ensnare men. Simon said: I wonder, O good
emperor, that you reckon this man of any consequence — a man uneducated, a
fisherman of the poorest, and endowed with power neither in word nor by rank. But,
that I may not long endure him as an enemy, I shall forthwith order my angels to
come and avenge me upon him. Peter said: I am not afraid of thy angels; but they
shall be much more afraid of me in the power and trust of my Lord Jesus Christ,
whom thou falsely declarest thyself to be.
Nero said: Art thou not afraid, Peter, of Simon, who confirms his godhead by deeds?
Peter said: Godhead is in Him who searcheth the hidden things of the heart. Now
then, tell me what I am thinking about, or what I am doing. I disclose to thy
servants who are here what my thought is, before he tells lies about it, in order that
he may not dare to lie as to what I am thinking about. Nero said: Come hither, and
tell me what thou art thinking about. Peter said: Order a barley loaf to be brought,
and to be given to me secretly. And when he ordered it to be brought, and secretly
given to Peter, Peter said: Now tell us, Simon, what has been thought about, or
what said, or what done. Nero said: Do you mean me to believe that Simon does not
know these things, who both raised a dead man, and presented himself on the third
day after he had been beheaded, and who has done whatever he said he would do?
Peter said: But he did not do it before me, Nero said: But he did all these before
me. For assuredly he ordered angels to come to him, and they came. Peter said: If
he has done what is very great, why does he not do what is very small? Let him tell
what I had in my mind, and what I have done. Nero said: Between you, I do not
know myself. Simon said: Let Peter say what I am thinking of, or what I am doing.
Peter said: What Simon has in his mind I shall show that I know, by my doing what
he is thinking about. Simon said: Know this, O emperor, that no one knows the
thoughts of men, but God alone. Is not, therefore, Peter lying? Peter said: Do thou,
then, who sayest that thou art the Son of God, tell what I have in my mind;
disclose, if thou canst, what I have just done in secret. For Peter, having blessed the
barley loaf which he had received, and hawing broken it with his right hand and his
left, had heaped it up in his sleeves. Then Simon, enraged that he was not able to
tell the secret of the apostle, cried out, saying: Let great dogs come forth, and eat
him up before Caesar. And suddenly there appeared great dogs, and rushed at Peter.
But Peter, stretching forth his hands to pray, showed to the dogs the loaf which he
had blessed; which the dogs seeing, no longer appeared. Then Peter said to Nero:
Behold, I have shown thee that I knew what Simon was thinking of, not by words,
but by deeds; for he, having promised that he would bring
angels against me, has brought dogs, in order that he might show that he had not
God-like but dog-like angels.
Then Nero said to Simon: What is it, Simon? I think we have got the worst of it.
Simon said: This man, both in Judaea and in all Palestine and Caesarea, has done
the same to me; and from very often striving with me, he has learned that this is
adverse to them. This, then, he has learned how to escape from me; for the
thoughts of men no one knows but God alone. And Peter said to Simon: Certainly
thou feignest thyself to be a God; why, then, dost thou not reveal the thoughts of
every man? Then Nero, turning to Paul, said: Why dost thou say nothing, Paul? Paul
answered and said: Know this, O emperor, that if thou permittest this magician to
do such things, it will bring an access of the greatest mischief to thy country, and
will bring down thine empire from its position. Nero said to Simon: What sayest
thou? Simon said: If I do not manifestly hold myself out to be a God, no one will
bestow upon me due reverence. Nero said: And now, why dost thou delay, and not
show thyself to be a God, in order that these men may be punished? Simon said:
Give orders to build for me a lofty tower of wood, and I, going up upon it, will call
my angels, and order them to take me, in the sight of all, to my father in heaven;
and these men, not being able to do this, are put to shame as uneducated men.
And Nero said to Peter: Hast thou heard, Peter, what has been said by Simon? From
this will appear how much power either he or thy God has. Peter said: O most mighty
emperor, it thou wert willing, thou mightst perceive that he is full of demons. Nero
said: Why do you make to me roundabouts of circumlocutions? Tomorrow will prove
you. Simon said: Dost thou believe, O good emperor, that I who was dead, and rose
again, am a magician? For it had been brought about by his own cleverness that the
unbelieving Simon had said to Nero: Order me to be beheaded in a dark place, and
there to be left slain; and if I do not rise on the third day, know that I am a
magician; but if I rise again, know that I am the Son of God.
And Nero having ordered this, in the dark, by his magic art be managed that a ram
should be beheaded. And for so long did the ram appear to be Simon until he was
beheaded. And when he had been beheaded in the dark, he that had beheaded him,
taking the head, found it to be that of a ram; hut he would not say anything to the
emperor, lest be should scourge him, having ordered this to be done in secret.
Thereafter, accordingly. Simon said that he bad risen on the third day, because he
took away the head of the ram and the limbs — but the blood had been there
congealed — and on the third day he showed himself to Nero, and said: Cause to be
wiped away my blood that has been poured out; for, behold, having been beheaded,
as I promised, I have risen again on the third day. And when Nero said, Tomorrow
will prove you, turning to Paul, he says: Thou Paul, why dost thou say nothing?
Either who taught thee, or whom thou hast for a master, or how thou hast taught in
the cities, or what things have happened through thy teaching? For I think that thou
hast not any wisdom, and art not able to accomplish any work of power. Paul
answered: Dost thou suppose that I ought to speak against a desperate man. a
magician, who has given his soul up to death, whose destruction and perdition will
come speedily? For he ought to speak who pretends to be what he is not, and
deceives men by magic art. If thou consentest to hear his words, and to shield him,
thou shalt destroy thy soul and thy kingdom, for he is a most base man. And as the
Egyptians Jannes and Jambres led Pharaoh and his army astray until they were
swallowed up in the sea, so also he, through the instruction of his father the devil,
persuades men to do many evils to themselves, and thus deceives many of the
innocent, to the peril of thy kingdom. But as for the word of the devil, which I see
has been poured out through this man, with groanings of my heart am dealing with
the Holy Spirit, that it may clearly shown what it is; for as far as he seems to raise
himself towards heaven, so far will he be sunk down into the depth of Hades, where
there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. But about the teaching of my Master, of
which thou didst ask me, none attain it except the pure, who allow faith to come
into their heart. For as many things as belong to peace and love, these have I
taught. Round about from Jerusalem, and as far as Illyricum, I have fulfilled the word
of peace. For I have taught that in honor they should prefer one another; I have
taught those that are eminent and rich not to be lifted up, and hope in uncertainty
of riches, but to place their hope in God; I have taught those in a middle station to
be content with food and covering; I have taught the poor to rejoice in their own
poverty; I have taught fathers to teach their children instruction in the fear of the
Lord, children to obey their parents in wholesome admonition; I have taught wives
to love their own husbands,
and to fear them as masters, and husbands to observe fidelity to their wives; I have
taught masters to treat their slaves with clemency, and slaves to serve their own
masters faithfully; I have taught the churches of the believers to reverence one
almighty, invisible, and incomprehensible God.
And this teaching has been given me, not from men, nor through men, but through
Jesus Christ, who spoke to me out of heaven, who also has sent
me to preach, saying to me, Go forth, for I will be with thee; and all things, as many
as thou shalt say or do, I shall make just. Nero said: What sayest thou, Peter? He
answered and said: All that Paul has said is true. For when he was a persecutor of
the faith of Christ, a voice called him out of heaven, and taught him the truth; for he
was not an adversary of our faith from hatred, but from ignorance. For there were
before us false Christs, like Simon, false apostles, and false prophets, who, contrary
to the sacred writings, set themselves to make void the truth; and against these it
was necessary to have in readiness this man, who from his youth up set himself to
no other thing than to search out the mysteries of the divine law, by which he might
become a vindicator of truth and a
persecutor of falsehood. Since, then, his persecution was not on account of hatred,
but on account of the vindication of the law, the very truth out of heaven held
intercourse with him, saying, I am the truth which you persecutest; cease
persecuting me. When, therefore, he knew that this was so, leaving off that which
he was vindicating, he began to vindicate this way of Christ which he was
persecuting.
Simon said: O good emperor, take notice that these two have conspired against me;
for I am the truth, and they purpose evil against me. Peter said: There is no truth in
thee; but all thou sayest is false. Nero said: Paul, what sayest thou? Paul said:
Those things which thou hast heard from Peter, believe to have been spoken by me
also; for we
purpose the same thing, for we have the same Lord Jesus the Christ. Simon said:
Dost thou expect me, O good emperor, to hold an argument with these men, who
have come to an agreement against me? And having turned to the apostles of
Christ, he said: Listen, Peter and Paul: if I can do nothing for you here, we are going
to the place where I must judge you. Paul said: O good emperor, see what threats
he holds out against us. Peter said: Why was it necessary to keep from laughing
outright at a foolish man, made the sport of demons, so as to suppose that he
cannot be made manifest? Simon said: I spare you until I shall receive my power.
Paul said: See if you will go out hence safe. Peter said: If thou do not see, Simon,
the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, thou wilt not believe thyself not to be Christ.
Simon said: Most sacred emperor, do not believe them, for they are circumcised
knaves. Paul said: Before we knew the truth. we had the
circumcision of the flesh; but when the truth appeared, in the circumcision
of the heart we both are circumcised, and circumcise. Peter said: If
circumcision be a disgrace, why hast thou been circumcised, Simon?
Nero said: Has, then, Simon also been circumcised? Peter said: For not
otherwise could he have deceived souls, unless he reigned himself to be a
Jew, and made a show of teaching the law of God. Nero said: Simon, thou,
as I see, being carried away with envy, persecutest these men. For, as it
seems, there is great hatred between thee and their Christ; and I am afraid
that thou wilt be worsted by them, and involved in great evils. Simon said:
Thou art led astray, O emperor. Nero said: How am I led astray? What I
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see in thee, I say. I see that thou art manifestly an enemy of Peter and Paul
and their master.
Simon said: Christ was not Paul’s master. Paul said: Yes; through
revelation He taught me also. But tell me what I asked thee — Why wast
thou circumcised? Simon said: Why have you asked me this? Paul said: We
have a reason for asking you this. Nero said: Why art thou afraid to
answer them? Simon said: Listen, O emperor. At that time circumcision
was enjoined by God when I received it. For this reason was I circumcised.
Paul said: Hearest thou, O good emperor, what has been said by Simon? If,
therefore, circumcision be a good thing, why hast thou, Simon, given up
those who have been circumcised, and forced them, after being condemned,
to be put to death? Nero said: Neither about you do I perceive anything
good. Peter and Paul said: Whether this thought about us be good or evil
has no reference to the matter; but to us it was necessary that what our
Master promised should come to pass. Nero said: If I should not be
willing? Peter said: Not as thou willest, but as He promised to us.
Simon said: O good emperor, these men have reckoned upon thy
clemency, and have bound thee. Nero said: But neither hast thou yet made
me sure about thyself. Simon said: Since so many excellent deeds and signs
have been shown to thee by me, I wonder how thou shouldst be in doubt.
Nero said: I neither doubt nor favor any of you; but answer me rather
what I ask.
Simon said: Henceforward I answer thee nothing. Nero said: Seeing that
thou liest, therefore thou sayest this. But if even I can do nothing to thee,
God, who can, will do it. Simon said: I no longer answer thee. Nero said:
Nor do I consider thee to be anything: for, as I perceive, thou art a liar in
everything. But why do I say so much? The three of you show that your
reasoning is uncertain; and thus in all things you have made me doubt, so
that I find that I can give credit to none of you.
Peter said: We preach one God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
has made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that therein is, who
is the true King; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Nero said: What
king is Lord? Paul said: The Savior of all the nations. Simon said:lam he
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whom you speak of. Peter and Paul said: May it never be well with thee,
Simon, magician, and full of bitterness.
Simon said: Listen, O Caesar Nero, that thou mayst know that these men
are liars, and that I have been sent from the heavens: tomorrow I go up
into the heavens, that I may make those who believe in me blessed, and
show my wrath upon those who have denied me. Peter and Paul said: Us
long ago God called to His own glory; but thou, called by the devil,
hastenest to punishment. Simon said: Caesar Nero, listen to me. Separate
these madmen from thee, in order that when I go into heaven to my father,
I may be very merciful to thee. Nero said: And whence shall we prove
this, that thou goest away into heaven? Simon said: Order a lofty tower to
be made of wood, and of great beams, that I may go up upon it, and that
my angels may find me in the air; for they cannot come to me upon earth
among the sinners. Nero said: I will see whether thou wilt fulfill what thou
sayest.
Then Nero ordered a lofty tower to be made in the Campus Martins, and
all the people and the dignities to be present at the spectacle. And on the
following day, all the multitude having come together, Nero ordered Peter
and Paul to he present, to whom also he said: Now the truth has to be
made manifest. Peter and Paul said: We do not expose him, but our Lord
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom he has falsely declared himself to be.
And Paul, having turned to Peter, said: It is my part to bend the knee, and
to pray to God; and thine to produce the effect, if thou shouldst see him
attempting anything, because thou wast first taken in hand by the Lord.
And Paul, bending his knees, prayed. And Peter, looking steadfastly upon
Simon, said: Accomplish what thou hast begun; for both thy exposure and
our call is at hand: for I see my Christ calling both me and Paul. Nero said:
And where will you go to against my will? Peter said: Whithersoever our
Lord has called us. Nero said: And who is your Lord? Peter said: Jesus the
Christ, whom I see calling us to Himself. Nero said: Do you also then
intend to go away to heaven? Peter said: If it shall seem good to Him that
calls us. Simon said: In order that thou mayst know, O emperor, that these
are deceivers, as soon as ever I ascend into heaven, I will send my angels to
thee, and will make thee come to me. Nero said: Do at once what thou
sayest.
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Then Simon went up upon the tower in the face of all, and, crowned with
laurels, he stretched forth his hands, and began to fly. And when Nero saw
him flying, he said to Peter: This Simon is true; hut thou and Paul are
deceivers. To whom Peter said: Immediately shalt thou know that we are
true disciples of Christ; but that he is not Christ, but a magician, and a
malefactor. Nero said: Do you still persist? Behold, you see him going up
into heaven. Then Peter, looking steadfastly upon Paul, said: Paul, look up
and see. And Paul, having looked up, full of tears, and seeing Simon flying,
said: Peter, why art thou idle? finish what thou hast begun; for already our
Lord Jesus Christ is calling us. And Nero hearing them, smiled a little, and
said: These men see themselves worsted already, and are gone mad. Peter
said: Now thou shalt know that we are not mad. Paul said to Peter: Do at
once what thou doest.
And Peter, looking steadfastly against Simon, said: I adjure you, ye angels
of Satan, who are carrying him into the air, to deceive the hearts of the
unbelievers, by the God that created all things, and by Jesus Christ, whom
on the third day He raised from the dead, no longer from this hour to keep
him up, but to let him go. And immediately, being let go, he fell into a
place called Sacra Via, that is, Holy Way, and was divided into four parts,
having perished by an evil fate.
Then Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be put in irons, and the body of
Simon to be carefully kept three days, thinking that he would rise on the
third day. To whom Peter said: He will no longer rise, since he is truly
dead, being condemned to everlasting punishment. And Nero said to him:
Who commanded thee to do such a dreadful deed? Peter said: His
reflections and blasphemy against my Lord Jesus Christ have brought him
into this gulf of destruction. Nero said: I will destroy you by an evil taking
off. Peter said: This is not in thy power, even if it should seem good to
thee to destroy us; but it is necessary that what our Master promised to
us should he fulfilled.
Then Nero, having summoned Agrippa the propraetor, said to him: It is
necessary that men introducing mischievous religious observances should
die. Wherefore I order them to take iron clubs,and to be killed in the
sea-fight. Agrippa the propraetor said: Most sacred emperor, what thou
hast ordered is not fitting for these men, since Paul seems innocent beside
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Peter. Nero said: By what fate, then, shall they die? Agrippa answered and
said: As seems to me, it is just that Paul’s head should be cut off, and that
Peter should be raised on a cross as the cause of the murder. Nero said:
Thou hast most excellently judged.
Then both Peter and Paul were led away from the presence of Nero. And
Paul was beheaded on the Ostesian road.
And Peter, having come to the cross, said: Since my Lord Jesus Christ,
who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the
cross upright, and He has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the
earth, my cross ought to be fixed head downmost, so as to direct my feet
towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord. Then,
having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up. And the multitude was
assembled reviling Caesar, and wishing to kill him. But Peter restrained
them, saying: A few days ago, being exhorted by the brethren, I was going
away; and my Lord Jesus Christ met me, and having adored Him, I said,
Lord, whither art Thou going? And He said to me, I am going to Rome to
be crucified. And I said to Him, Lord, wast Thou not crucified once for all?
And the Lord answering, said, I saw thee fleeing from death, and I wish to
be crucified instead of thee. And I said, Lord, I go; I fulfill Thy command.
And He said to me, Fear not, for am with thee. On this account, then,
children, do not hinder my going; for already my feet are going on the road
to heaven. Do not grieve, therefore, but rather rejoice with me, for today I
receive the fruit of my labors. And thus: speaking, he said: I thank Thee,
good Shepherd, that the sheep which Thou hast entrusted to me,
sympathize with me; I ask, then, that with me they may have a part in
Thy kingdom. And having thus spoken, he gave up the ghost.
And immediately there appeared men glorious and strange in appearance;
and they said: We are here, on account of the holy and chief apostles, from
Jerusalem. And they, along with Marcellus, an illustrious man, who,
having left Simon, had believed in Peter, took up his body secretly, and
put it under the terebinth near the place for the exhibition of sea-fights in
the place called the Vatican.
And the men who had said that they came from Jerusalem said to the
people: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, because you have been deemed
worthy to have great champions. And know that Nero himself, after these
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not many days, will be utterly destroyed, and his kingdom shall be given
to another.
And after these things the people revolted against him; and when he knew
of it, he fled into desert places, and through hunger and cold he gave up the
ghost, and his body became food for the wild beasts.
And some devout men of the regions of the East wished to carry off the
relics of the saints, and immediately there was a great earthquake in the
city; and those that dwelt in the city having become aware of it, ran and
seized the men, but they fled. But the Romans having taken them, put
them in a place three miles froth the city, and there they were guarded a
year and seven months, until they had built the place in which they
intended to put them. And after these things, all having assembled with
glory and singing of praise, they put them in the place built for them.
And the consummation of the holy glorious Apostles Peter and Paul was
on the 29th of the month of June —
[1]  Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul – ANF VOL 8.
Lives of the Saints