Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

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Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle

chair of Saint Peter

“I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.”
[1]

The Church has celebrated this Feast of the Chair of Peter, in Rome, since the 4th century, as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon Saint Peter, the Apostle, when Jesus said, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”[2] “How great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man.”[3]

Christ entrusted the apostles with their mission just as he had been sent by the Father (cf John 20:21) and willed that their successors be shepherds in His Church until the end of the world. But, so that the episcopate might be one and undivided, he put Peter at the head of the other apostles, and in him set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion.[4]

Jesus’ words to Peter do “not mean that the Church and the office of Peter will not be attacked from all sides but rather that it will be the magnetic pole that attracts the darkest powers of world history…”[5] We should not be surprised; because, we’ve seen this over and over again. But, God is no foolish builder. The rains fall, the floods come, the winds blow and buffet this House, this Chair of Peter. And still, it does not collapse. It has been built on solid rock.[6] If the Church, the Body of Christ, were not of divine origin, She would have been destroyed long ago. Rather, we see Her hardened through suffering yet sheltering the tender and sweet fruit of the Spirit exhaled on the Cross.[7]

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.[8] As members of His Body, let us pray for our Holy Mother the Church, and our Holy Father, echoing Christ’s prayer for unity that all may be consecrated in the truth[9] … and be made one.[10]


[1] Isaiah 22:22.

[2] Matthew 16:18-19.

[3] From a sermon by St. Leo the Great, pope, (Sermo 4 de natali ipsius, 2-3: PL 54, 149-151), from the Second Reading, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours for February 22.

[4] Cf Lumen Gentium 18, 21 November 1964, referencing Pastores Aeternus: Denz. 1821. Vatican Council I.

[5] The Chair of Peter and the Structure of the Church, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2nd edition, 2007.

[6] Cf Matthew 7:25.

[7] Cf The Chair of Peter and the Structure of the Church, op cit.

[8] Cf Psalm 118:24.

[9] Cf John 17:17.

[10] Cf John 17:21.

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Art for this post on the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter: Chair of Saint Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica, 03.05.2008, Sergey Smirnov, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; Emblem of the Papacy: Triple tiara and keys, 13 January 2006, Unknown Author, Hautala, Open Clip Art, PD, CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication; both Wikimedia Commons.

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