Today two of the fortunate witnesses of the Resurrection of our beloved Savior are introduced to us; Philip and James come to testify that their Master has really risen from the dead, that they have seen him, that they have been able to touch him, that they stayed with him during these forty days. And so that no doubt arises as to the sincerity of their testimony, they hold in their hands the instruments of martyrdom they have undergone to attest that Jesus, after suffering death, came out alive from his grave.

St. Philip.

According to tradition, St. Philip’s preaching took place near the Scythians; and it is supposed that he died in Gerapoli in Phrygia. Ancient documents attest that he was martyred under Domitian or Trajan.

St. James.

St. James, better known, was called the “Brother of the Lord” because there was a bond of kinship between his mother and that of Jesus. In these days of Easter time he is offered in a special way to our admiration. We know from the Apostle Saint Paul that he was favored by the risen Savior with a special apparition. And such a privilege undoubtedly corresponded to a particular dedication of this disciple to the Master. He was named first. Bishop of Jerusalem and the fame of his virtues was so great that they called him the “Just One” throughout the city. The Jews, too blind to understand that the terrible disaster of their city was due to the punishment for the deicide, saw the cause in the assassination of James, who fell under their blows, while praying for them. We will be able to penetrate the so serene and pure soul of the holy Apostle, reading the admirable Epistle through which he still speaks to us. In it with celestial language it teaches us that we must join the works to faith, if we want to be righteous with that justice that will make us similar to our resurrected Head.

The relics of Saints James and Philip, rest in Rome, in the Basilica known as the Twelve Apostles and form one of the most sacred treasures of the eternal city. Those of St. Philip were transported there during the Pontificate of Pope Pelagius I (died in 560), the first of May, the day on which the Dedication of that Church was celebrated; those of St. James were brought to you a little later. Except for the feasts of Saint John the Evangelist and of Saint Andrew the brother of Saint Peter, for a long time the Church of Rome did not celebrate the other feasts of the Apostles, which it united to the solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul. The welcome given to the bodies of Saints Philip and James, transported here from the East in the 6th century, gave rise to the institution of today’s feast in their honor; and this derogation led gradually to insert,

Prayer to the two Apostles.

You, Holy Apostles, saw Jesus risen in all his glory, who said to you on Easter evening: “peace be with you! And he appeared to you during these forty days, to make you sure of his Resurrection. Great was your joy in receiving the Master, who had deigned to choose you among his intimate confidants, and your love for him became more ardent than ever. We turn to you as initiators of the faithful to the mysteries of Easter and as our special intercessors in this sacred time. Let us know and love the risen Jesus. Dilate our hearts in the paschal joy, and do not allow us to ever lose that life which we have regained with Jesus.

… St. Philip.

The dedication that you have towards him, or Philip, appeared from the first days of your vocation. You had just met the Messiah, who was already rushing to announce him to his friend Nathanael. Jesus let you approach his person with sweet familiarity.

At the moment of performing the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, he turned to you, saying with goodness: «Where will we buy bread to feed these people? ». A few days before the Master’s Passion, Gentile men, who wished to see with their own eyes the great prophet whose wonders were being told, turned to you to be brought to him. And with what ardor at the Last Supper you asked Jesus to make you know Heavenly Father! Your soul aspired to divine light; and when it was inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit, nothing more than exceeded your courage. To reward you for your work. Jesus made you share in the honor of his cross. Question, Holy Apostle, that we imitate your ardent search with our common Master, and that the cross is sweet, when he likes to make us participate.

… to St. James.

We honor in you the love you brought to the Redeemer; in you who were called the Brother of the Lord, who resembled him in the features of the noble face, who were Pastor of the Church of Jerusalem. If you had a moment of weakness like the others in the Time of the Passion, your repentance brought you back to Jesus: after Peter, you were the first of the Apostles to whom he deigned to manifest himself in particular. We congratulate ourselves on this enviable favor; in return show us how great is the sweetness of our risen Lord. Your heart, Holy Apostle, aspired no more than to show Jesus all the gratitude with which he was full; and the last testimony that you gave to his divinity in the unfaithful city, opened to you, by means of martyrdom, that way that was to unite you forever. Get, generous Apostle.

Prayer for the Church.

By gathering in one prayer, or holy Apostles, we ask you to have mercy on the Church of the East that you evangelized. Pray for Jerusalem, desecrated by schism and heresy, get us to be able to see it soon free and purified; that the Holy Places cease to be stained with sacrilege every day. Arouse in Christians of Asia Minor the desire to return to the fold, governed by the High Shepherd. And finally, Holy Apostles, pray for Rome, which has become your second homeland, since it is within its walls that you await the glorious Resurrection.