The Chair of Saint Peter (Cathedra Petri: in Latin), also known as the St Peter’s Throne, is a relic conserved in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the independent enclave of the Pope inside Rome, Italy. The relic is a wooden seat that tradition claims the Apostle Saint Peter, the leader of the Early Christians in Rome and first Pope, used as Bishop of Rome.
The relic is surrounding is the sculpture of a golden bronze covering. Designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and implemented between 1647 and 1653.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI described the Chair of Saint Peter as; “symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Inheritors to tend Christ’s flock. Keeping it united in faith and in charity”.
Description of Chair of Saint Peter
The wooden throne was a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald to Pope John VIII in 875.
It has been studied numerous times over the years. The last being from 1968 to 1974. When it was last removed from the Bernini altar. That study established that it was not a double but somewhat a single chair with a casing. No part of the chair dated earlier than the sixth century.
The Chair is the cathedra of St. Peter’s Basilica. Cathedra is Latin for “chair” or “throne”. Then denominates the chair or seat of a bishop, hence “cathedral” denominates the Bishop’s church in a pontifical seat. The Popes previously used the Chair. It is distinct from the Papal Cathedra in St. John Lateran Archbasilica, also in Rome, which is the actual cathedral church of the Pope.
Chair of Saint Peter having triumphed over the devil in the East. The latter pursue him to Rome in the person of Simon Magus. He who had formerly trembled at the voice of a poor maid. Now feared not the very throne of idolatry and superstition. The capital of the empire of the world and the center of impiety, called for the zeal of the Prince of Apostles.
God had established the Roman Empire. And extended its dominion beyond that of any former monarchy, for the more easy propagation of His Gospel.
Its metropolis was of the greatest importance for this enterprise. St. Peter took that province upon himself, and, repairing to Rome, there preached the faith and established his ecclesiastical chair.
That St. Peter preached in Rome. Founded the Church there, and died there by martyrdom under Nero. Facts the most incontestable, by the testimony of all writers of different countries who lived near that time. Persons of unquestionable veracity and who could not but be informed of the truth. In a point so interesting and of its own nature so public and notorious.
This is also attested by monuments of every kind; by the prerogatives, rights, and privileges which that church enjoyed from those early ages in consequence of this title.
It’s an ancient custom observes churches to keep an annual festival of the consecration of their bishops. The feast of the Chair of St. Peter is found in ancient martyrologies.
Christians justly celebrate the founding of this mother-church. The center of Catholic communion. In thanksgiving to God for His mercies to His Church, and to implore His future blessings.
The container, like several of the medieval period. Takes the shape of the relic it protects, i.e. the form of a chair.
Symbolically, the chair statue maker designed had no worldly counterpart in actual modern furnishings.
It’s shape is entirely of scrolling. Members enclosing a coved panel. where, the upholstery pattern rendering as a low relief of Christ instructing Peter to tend to His sheep. great angelic figures flank an openwork panel to underneath an extremely realistic bronze seat cushion, vividly empty: the relic is encased within.
The cathedra lofting is on spread scrolling bars that appear to be smoothly supported by four over-lifesize bronze Doctors of the Church. Western doctors Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine of Hippo on the outsides; wearing miters while Eastern doctors Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Athanasius on the insides are both bare-head.
The cathedra seems to float over the altar. Within the basilica’s apsis. Lit by a central tinted window, through which light streams illuminates. The gilded glory of sunrays and sculpted clouds surround the window.
Similar to Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. This is a definitive fusion of the Baroque paintings. Unifying sculpture and richly polychrome architecture and manipulating effects of light.
Today’s Catholic Quote:
As one of God’s greatest mercies to His Church. let us earnestly beg of Him to raise up in it zealous pastors. Eminently replenished with His Spirit, with which He animated His apostles.
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