“You are Peter; and on this Rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it.” (Matthew 16:18)
The Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter commemorates the authority that Jesus gave to Peter, appointing the Apostle to be the head of the Church.
Originally, the feast was celebrated twice annually on January 18 (Saint Peter’s first sermon in Rome) and on February 22 (his first teaching in Antioch). In 1960, Pope John XXIII tried to establish the celebration of the feast on a single date with many traditionalist Catholics objecting to the change. Nine years later, after speculations, February 22 was marked in the Roman Calendar as the feast’s official date.
Since the 4th century, the feast has been celebrated in Rome to signify the unity of the Church that Christ built upon Peter. In celebration of the feast, the Catholic Church also acknowledges Saint Peter as the Church’s first Pope with his mission continuing through the current Holy See. In addition, the Church also proclaims that the authority given to Peter has been entrusted to the succeeding Popes in the past 2000 years.
The Chair of Saint Peter symbolizes the ecclesiastical authority of Peter as the first Pope, an authority not meant to conquer but to unite; a continuous authority but is not transmitted personally like an inherited authority given from a father to a son or from a family to another. This ecclesiastical authority attaches to the Office of Saint Peter and is entrusted to the office’s succeeding occupant with the charisms promised by Jesus to Saint Peter.
In the apse of Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Cathedra Petri, a sculptured monument enclosing the original wooden chair of Saint Peter is enshrined. Surrounding the Chair are the statues of the four Doctors of the Church namely Saint Ambrose, Saint Anthanasius, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Augustine. Above the Cathedra is an alabaster window that shows a dove symbolizing the Holy Spirit.
Cathedra Petri: http://stpetersbasilica.info/Altars/Cathedra/Cathedra.htm
Satis Cognitum | Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the Unity of the Church: https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_29061896_satis-cognitum.html
The Chair of Saint Peter: https://mycatholic.life/saints/saints-of-the-liturgical-year/february-22-chair-of-saint-peter-apostle/
The Throne of Truth: What is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter?: https://www.simplycatholic.com/the-throne-of-truth-what-is-the-feast-of-the-chair-of-st-peter/
Everything You Need to Know About the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter: https://www.st-peters-basilica-tickets.com/feast-of-the-chair-of-st-peter/