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Chair of St. Peter

Apostle

Feast Day: February 22



A sermon of St. Augustine, Bishop

Today’s solemn feast was instituted by our forefathers and given the name of “the Chair” because it is said that it was on this day that Peter, the first of the Apostles, was enthroned as a bishop. It is most fitting, then, that the churches should celebrate the anniversary of that seat of honor which the Apostle received for the welfare of the churches according to the Lord’s saying, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church”.

In this way the Lord named Peter as the foundation of the Church, and so the Church rightly celebrates this foundation on which her whole lofty structure rises up. And it is fitting that the Psalm verse read today says, “Let them exalt him in the church of the people and praise him in the chair of the elders.” Blessed be God, who commanded St. Peter the Apostle to be exalted in the Church; for it is right that in the Church this foundation should be honored by which she rises up to Heaven.

In celebrating today the feast of this Chair, therefore, we honor the priestly office. Hereby the churches show one another that, by necessity, the greater the honor given the priestly ministry, the greater is the dignity of the Church. And when the religious observance of this solemn feast has so rightly been introduced into the churches, I wonder why that harmful error is growing today among some unfaithful persons who place food and wine on the tombs of the dead, as if souls that have left their bodies required bodily nourishment.

Taken from The Hours of the Divine Office in English and Latin, Vol. I: Advent to Passion Sunday (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1963), pp. 1795-1797.