It's almost impossible for me not to think of Rome when I think of St. Peter. After all, the head of the apostles was the first bishop of Rome. It is for this reason that his successor bishops of Rome, the popes, have led the Church.
St. Peter was also martyred at Rome, crucified upside down. The magnificent St. Peter's Basilica was built atop his bones. They remain there today, far below the high altar, where visitors on the Scavi Tour can see them.
So St. Peter and Rome are inextricably connected. But on this Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, I'm think of how linked to Rome the apostle to the Gentiles was as well.
Saul, the rabbi, was from Tarsus, in what is now Turkey. He was converted on the road to Damascus, then eventually visited many other places on his missionary journeys. One of his greatest letters was written to the Christians at Rome, the heart of the empire into which Christianity was born.
Like St. Peter, he later was imprisoned in Rome -- in a stone jail that exists to this day -- and executed there. He was beheaded, not crucified, because he was a citizen of Rome. And today a great basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, holds his sarcophagus.
St. Peter and St. Paul make me proud to be Roman Catholic.