Pray without ceasing: Why January 18-25th?
Each year, the Week of Prayer is normally celebrated between the 18th January and the 25th January. The 18th is the date of an early fourth century feast commemorating the first service at which St Peter the Apostle preached and presided when he arrived at Rome, in an oratory at the Catacombs of Priscilla on the Via Salaria. It appears the chair on which he sat was preserved, and honoured in the name of the feast to mark the day - The Chair of St Peter at Rome. The honoured relic did not survive the ravages of time or a Saracen raids. The 25th is the feast of the Conversion of St Paul on the road to Damascus.
The martyrdom of these two apostles, both in Rome, is regarded as integral to the future development of the life of the Church, led by the Church at Rome, and its proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News, of Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul's two approaches to declaring their faith in the Risen Christ, their distinctive origins and perpectives, may well be different, but the Church came to understand them as complementary, reconciled, and indeed integral to each other's truth.
In the present day, with one Universal Church, but Christians divided within it by separate Churches, Church Communities, traditions and principles, St Peter and St Paul are ideal "patron saints" for rediscovering the essential unity of Christians, the re-integration of the Church and the restoration to sight of its visible unity - "so that the world can believe".
In some countries, especially in the southern hemisphere, the Week of Prayer is observed on the days between the feast of the Ascension of our Lord and Pentecost, or in the days after Pentecost. This season of prayer for unity is even older than the Week of Prayer itself, having been sanctioned by the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope in different ways from 1878 onwards. Follow the links to find out more about the history of the Week of Prayer.