John and Paul, Ss.
JOHN AND PAUL, SS.
Roman martyrs named in the Canon of the Mass. According to the legendary passio, John and Paul were brothers, officials at the imperial court, whom julian the apostate (361–363) had put to death as Christians by the Roman officer Terentianus. They were allegedly decapitated in their home on the Caelian hill and secretly buried in the basement. On the death of Julian, the new Emperor Jovian then constructed a basilica over the site of their martyrdom. Excavations beneath the Basilica of Saints Giovanni e Paolo in Rome were interpreted by Germano di S. Stanislao at the beginning of the 20th century, and more recently by G. de Sanctis, as indicative of the historical existence of the two saints. However, the complexity of the manuscript tradition of the passio and its authenticity have been studied by outstanding hagiographers who deny its historical worth: franchi de' cavalieri considered the passio a plagiarism on the Acts of Saints Juventinus and Maximinus; Lanzoni and H. Delehaye thought the original title of the basilica referred to John the Baptist and the Apostle St. Paul. A. Prandi's judgment (1953) still seems to be the most authentic: the archeological remains beneath the present church are a remarkable specimen of what was a large pagan home apparently used for Christian services, over which the original basilica was built in the fifth century; but the archeological evidence provides no clear or undisputable link between the monument and the saints. John and Paul were greatly honored in England; a council at Oxford in 1222 made their feast a holy day of obligation in Great Britain. Because of the generosity of Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York, whose titular church it was, the remains of the ancient house beneath the present basilica have been almost totally restored.
Feast: June 26.
Bibliography: g. di s. stanislao, La casa Celimontana dei SS. Martiri Giovanni e Paolo (Rome 1894); cpf. Analecta Bollandiana, 14 (1895) 332. g. de sanctis, I Santi Giovanni e Paolo martiri celimontani (Rome 1962); cpf. b. de gaiffier, Analecta Bollandiana, 82 (1964) 439–440. e. gasdia, La casa paganocristiana del Celio (Rome 1937). a. prandi, Il complesso monumentale della basilica celimontana (Vatican City 1953). v. l. kennedy, The Saints of the Canon of the Mass (Vatican City 1938) 131–137. p. franchi de' cavalieri, Note agiografiche (Studi e Testi, 9; 1902) 53–65. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Churh (London 1957) 738.