Celebrated on February 22, the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter honors the Apostle Peter, a disciple of Jesus and the first pope of Christendom. This feast expresses and recalls the mission exercised by the bishop of Rome, successor of Peter and pastor of the universal Church!
Discover the meaning of the Chair of Saint Peter, the celebration and history of the feast of February 22, and pray with Hozana to the Apostle Peter!
The term “Chair of Saint Peter” refers to an ancient wooden chair, dating from the first centuries, preserved in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. A chair made of oak and acacia wood and covered with ivory, it is now kept out of sight. A sculpture by Bernini dating from 1654 supports a reliquary, inside which the chair is located.
According to tradition, the chair was gifted to Saint Peter by the Roman senator Pudens. Saint Peter would have preached and exercised his authority on this chair, first in Antioch, then in Rome, until his martyrdom in the year 67.
This seat - also called a seat of truth or a seat to preach - is the seat of the bishop of Rome and thus refers to the expression of papal authority, whose primacy is exercised over other bishops. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the basilica, explains that this see is "the symbol of the mission that Jesus entrusted to Peter, indicating to him the unique and unassailable foundation of the Church". The Pope, successor of Saint Peter and supreme pastor of the Catholic Church, indeed has a unique mission: that of "proclaiming the faith, uniting Christians and presiding over charity" (Ignatius of Antioch).
Until the Second Vatican Council, the Church celebrated two feasts of the Chair of Peter: the "Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle in Rome" on February 18 and the "Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter in Antioch" on February 22. Each referred to a part of the ministry of Saint Peter.
In 1960, Pope John XXIII combined these two feasts into one, changing the name of the celebration to "Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle".
The liturgical feast of February 22 emphasizes the importance of the Petrine ministry. Benedict XVI, in his general audience of February 22, 2006, explains: "To celebrate the Chair of Peter, as we do, therefore, means to attribute to it a deep spiritual meaning and to recognize in it a privileged sign of the love of God, Good and Eternal Shepherd, who wants to gather his whole Church and guide her on the path of salvation."
The liturgy of the celebration leads us on this occasion to meditate on very beautiful texts, which underline this mission of pastor at the service of the Christian faith, unity and charity:
The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter recalls the mission that Christ entrusted to his Apostle Peter, a mission now fulfilled by the Pope! On the occasion of this celebration, let us pray for the bishop of Rome and for the universal Church, through the intercession of Saint Peter, whose faith is the rock on which the Lord built his Church!