Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter - February 22

Chair of Saint Peter
February 22

Every year on February 22, the Church celebrates the feast of the Chair of St. Peter and what the chair signifies. It represents the moment in scripture when Jesus made St. Peter the head of His Church. “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld 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.” (Matthew 16:17-19) This makes this chair unlike any other. For it is the authority of Christ himself who occupies this chair no matter who is Pope at any given time. And Christ has promised that His Holy Spirit will protect His Church against the gates of the netherworld forever.

In 2001 we had the privilege of taking a trip of a lifetime. Momboisse Family Adventure’s toured St. Peter’s Basilica. Here, in the heart of the Basilica, just under the center dome stands the baldacchino (canopy or Chuppa). The baldacchino is built over the main Papal altar. The Papal altar is built over the Tomb of Saint Peter. Circular staircases lead down to the tomb. Looking through the baldacchino and over the Papal altar our eyes are drawn to Lorenzo Bernini’s magnificent reliquary the Altar of the Chair containing a relic of a chair St. Peter used to preach. The Altar is illuminated by one of my favorite depictions of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

Why would the main Papal altar in St. Peter’s Basilica be covered by an ornate yet breathtaking four poster bed frame? The answer is that upon this altar and all the altars in every Catholic Church around the world the faithful will partake in the Eucharistic meal the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior Jesus Christ. This is no ordinary meal to which we have been invited.

At this meal, Christ gives His Body, to His bride, the Church. We are then called to consume Our Lord’s Body in an intimate communion. The Catholic Church likens this communion to the marital union of husband and wife. The baldacchino built over the main altar thus represents a wedding bed. At the altar, every time we partake of the Eucharist, we, the Church (bride) unite with Jesus (bridegroom) in an intimate communion. Happy are those called to the Supper of the Lamb. Pax
St Peter's Basilica - Altar of the Chair Bernini

No comments:

Post a Comment