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    Russian Orthodox believers commemorate Sts. Peter and Paul

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    MOSCOW, July 12 (RIA Novosti, Olga Lipich) - Orthodox believers are celebrating Sts. Peter and Paul Day, one of the five greatest church feasts, today.

    Patriarch Alexy II, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, will conduct a service in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Lefortovo in eastern Moscow.

    Special services will also be conducted in all the 118 churches in the Novgorod diocese in northwestern Russia. Special commemorations are scheduled for the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Valdai.

    Metropolitan Cyril of Smolensk and Kaliningrad who heads the Moscow Patriarchy's Foreign Church Relations Department will bless the place in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Far East, where a monument to the apostles, the city's patron saints, will be built.

    "Building a monument to Sts. Peter and Paul in the center of the Kamchatka Peninsula's capital is an important part of the program for celebrating the 300th anniversary of the adoption of Orthodoxy in Komchatka," Metropolitan Cyril said.

    The monument, due to be completed in the fall in the city center near Kultuchnoye Lake, will become a symbol of the city, he said.

    Sts. Peter and Paul are known for their evangelistic efforts in converting Jews and pagans to Christianity.

    The Apostle Paul was beheaded and Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, after saying he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ. The two apostles were martyred in A.D. 67 when Emperor Nero launched his persecutions against Christians.

    The holiday marks the end of the Apostles' fast introduced by the church to commemorate their compassionate service and suffering.

    The holiday is revered as a fishermen's holiday in some of Russia's regions as St. Peter was a fisherman and is the patron saint of fishermen.

    Russian families used to gather at dinner on the eve of Sts. Peter and Paul Day, while youths went to see the sunrise. At night, girls picked 12 flowers from 12 fields to predict whom they would marry.

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