Thursday, January 18, 2024

St Peter’s Chair in Rome 2024

When there were two feasts of St Peter’s Chair, that of Rome celebrated today, and that of Antioch on February 22, the following sermon of Pope St Leo the Great was read at Matins of the former in the Breviary of St Pius V.

When the twelve Apostles, having received through the Holy Spirit the power to speak every tongue, undertook to teach the Gospel to the world, and divided the regions of the earth amongst themselves, the most blessed Peter, chief of the apostolic order, was chosen for the capital city of the Roman Empire, so that the light of truth, which was revealed for the salvation of the nations, might be shed the more powerfully through the whole body from the world from its own head. From what nation were there no men at that time in that city? Or what did the nations not know, once Rome had learned it? Here were the opinions of philosophy to be trod down, here the vanities of earthly wisdom to be abolished, here the worship of demons to be suppressed, here the impiety of every sacrilege to be destroyed, where everything that had been established by vain error over the whole world was kept, gathered most diligently by superstition.

St Peter Walks Upon the Water (Matthew 14, 22-33, the Gospel of the Octave of Ss Peter and Paul.) The original mosaic was made by Giotto on a wall of the courtyard of the old St Peter’s Basilica in 1298, opposite the church’s façade. Only a few fragments were saved from the destruction of the old basilica; this copy is an oil painting made in 1628 from drawings of the original. In 1675, a new mosaic on the same design was mounted in the portico of the new basilica, facing the main door, as a reminder to pilgrims as they leave the church to pray for the Holy Father. (Public domain image from Wikimedia.)
To this city, then, most blessed Apostle Peter, thou didst not shrink to come, and since thy comrade in glory, the Apostle Paul, was still occupied in the founding of other churches, thou didst enter that forest of roaring beasts, that most deep and stormy ocean, more firmly than when thou did upon the sea. Already hadst thou taught them that had believed from among the circumcision, thou hadst founded the Church of Antioch, where first arose the noble name of Christian; by thy preaching thou hadst filled with the law of the Gospel Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; and with no doubt of the advancement of thy work, nor uncertain of the span of thy life, thou didst bring the trophy of the cross of Christ into the fortresses of Rome, where the honor of their authority and the glory of thy passion went before thee by the providence of God.

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