Saints John and Paul were Roman soldiers who were Christians as well. They were martyred at Rome on 26 June. The year of their martyrdom is uncertain according to their Acts, it occurred under Julian the Apostate (361-3).
In the second half of the fourth century, Byzantius, the Roman senator, and Pammachius, his son, fashioned their house on the Cælian Hill into a Christian basilica.
In the fifth century the presbyteri tituli Byzantii (priests of the church of Byzantius) are mentioned in an inscription and among the signatures of the Roman Council of 499. The church was also called the titulus Pammachii after Byzantius’s son, the pious friend of St. Jerome. In the ancient apartments on the ground-floor of the house of Byzantius, which were still retained under the basilica, the tomb of two Roman martyrs, John and Paul, was the object of veneration as early as the fifth century.
The Sacramentarium Leonianum already indicates in the preface to the feast of the saints, that they rested within the city walls (“Sacr. Leon.”, ed. Feltoe, Cambridge, 1896, 34), while, in one of the early itineraries to the tombs of the Roman martyrs, their grave is assigned to the church on the Cælian (De rossi, “Roma sotterrania”, I, 138, 175). The titulus Byzantii or Pammachii was consequently known at a very early date by the names of the two martyrs (titulus SS. Joannis et Pauli).
That the two saints are martyrs of the Roman Church, is historically certain; as to how and when their bodies found a resting-place in the house of Pammachius under the basilica, we only know that it certainly occurred in the fourth century. The year and circumstances of their martyrdom are likewise unknown. According to their Acts, which are of a purely legendary character and without historical foundation, the martyrs were eunuchs of Constantina, daughter of Constantine the Great, and became acquainted with a certain Gallicanus, who built a church in Ostia.
At the command of Julian the Apostate, they were beheaded secretly by Terentianus in their house on the Cælian, where their church was subsequently erected, and where they themselves were buried. The rooms on the ground-floor of the above-mentioned house of Pammachius were rediscovered under the Basilica of SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Rome. They are decorated with important and interesting frescoes, while the original tomb (confessio) of Sts. John and Paul is covered with paintings of which the martyrs are the subject. The rooms and the tomb form one of the most important early Christian memorials in Rome. Since the erection of the basilica, the two saints have been greatly venerated, and their names have been inserted in the Canon of the Mass. Their feast is kept on this day.
INTROIT Isaias 49: 1-2
Many were the afflictions of the just, and out of all these the Lord delivered them: the Lord keepeth all their bones, not one of them shall be broken. (Ps. 33: 2, 1) will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall be ever in my mouth. v. Glory be…etc
We beseech Thee, O almighty God, that the double joy of this day’s festival, which proceedeth from the glory of blesssed John and Paul, kindred through the one faith and the one martyrdom, may take possession of us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
Commemoration of Nat. SJB
O God, Who hast made this day honorable to us on account of the birth of blessed John, grant Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the minds of all the faithful in the way of everlasting salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever.
EPISTLE Ecclus. 44: 10-15
Lesson from the Book of Wisdom. These are men of mercy whose godly deeds have not failed. Good things continue with their seed; their posterity are a holy inheritance, and their seed hath stood in the covenants; and their children for their sakes remain forever: their seed and their glory shall not be forsaken. Their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation. Let the people show forth their wisdom, and the Church declare Her praise.
GRADUAL/ALLELUIA Ps. 132:1-2
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brethren dwell together in unity!
V. It is like the precious ointment upon the head that runs down over the beard, the beard of Aaron. Alleluia, alleluia! V. Here was true brotherliness which overcame the sinfulness of the world and followed Christ to attain the glorious kingdom of heaven. Alleluia!
GOSPEL Luke 12:1-8
At that time, Jesus began to say to his disciples: “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed: nor hidden that shall not be known. For whatsoever things you have spoken in darkness shall be published in the light: and that which you have spoken in the ear in the chambers shall be preached on the housetops. And I say to you, my friends: Be not afraid of them who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will shew you whom you shall fear: Fear ye him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you: Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? Yea, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: you are of more value than many sparrows. And I say to you: Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Ps. 5:12-13
All those who love Your name shall glory in You, for You, O Lord, will bless the just man. You, O Lord, will surround us with Your good will, as with a shield.
O Lord, graciously accept the gifts we offer You in honor of Your blessed martyrs, John and Paul, and help us to find in them unending assistance. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
Commemoration Nat. SJB
We heap Thine altars with gifts, O Lord, celebrating with fitting honor the nativity of him who heralded the coming of the Saviour, and pointed Him out when He had come,Our Lord Jesus Christ, and reignest, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God. Through our Lord Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever.
PREFACE of the Common
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, the Dominations worship it, the Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise:
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Sap. 3:4, 5. 6
And though in the sight of men they suffered torments, God was trying them, and as gold in the fire He was proving them, and as a victim of a holocaust He received them.
We have received Your Sacrament of Heaven, O Lord, to commemorate Your holy martyrs John and Paul. May this Sacred Rite which we celebrate now on earth bring us happiness in eternity. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, For ever and ever.
Commemoration of Nat. SJB
May Thy Church, O God, be joyful at the birth of blessed John the Baptist, through whom she knew the Author of her regeneration, our Lord Jesus Christ,Thy Son. Who with Thee livest and reignest, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever.