Feast of the Chair of Peter

To celebrate today’s feast, I walked over to St. Peter’s Basilica this morning, especially keen to see the church decorated for the day–the candles lit on Bernini’s spectacular sculpture of the Cathedra Petri and the first pope’s statue decked out in his party regalia.

Cathedra Petri, Bernini

In the past I’ve always had class or other obligations or there were too many tourists or the world was closed for pandemic, so I’d never visited the basilica on this feast. Today, like Goldilocks but without the hair, I found everything just right. Just a smattering of visitors early in the morning, and as a bonus I was able to get to the altar of St. Leo the Great, which is in a part of the church that is sometimes blocked off. Leo is a favorite of mine because of his lapidary teaching that what was visible in Jesus when he walked the earth has passed over into the sacraments (Sermon 74).

Leo the Great turning back Attila, Altar of St. Leo the Great, Alessandro Algardi, St. Peter’s

Leo also appears in the Office of Readings for today’s feast, so I’ll give him the last word:

“Out of the whole world, one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the Church. Though there are in God’s people many bishops and many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man…”

You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church (Matt 16:18)

Author: Anthony Lusvardi, SJ

Anthony R. Lusvardi, S.J., teaches sacramental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He writes on a variety of theological, cultural, and literary topics.

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