Chair of St. Peter1. What is the Chair of Peter?

It depends on what you mean – we look at both the physical object and the spiritual reality it represents.

2. What is the physical Chair of St. Peter?

This object–known as the Cathedra Petri (Latin, “Chair of Peter”)–is located in the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica. It is in the back of the chamber, behind the famous altar, on the far, back wall, below the the well-known, stained glass image depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove (see above).

This display contains an ancient chair that has been repaired and ornamented over time.

3. How has the chair changed over time?

Various modifications have been made to the chair, to repair and ornament it.

4. Did St. Peter really sit in this chair?

Pope Benedict XVI placed less emphasis on the archaeological authenticity of the chair than on its spiritual significance.

5. What is the spiritual significance of the feast the Church celebrates today?

Celebrating the “Chair” of Peter means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation [General Audience, Feb. 22, 2006].

6. What does the first Scripture reading of the day have to teach us?

The first reading for the day is 1 Peter 5:1–4, which reads:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed. Tend the flock of God that is your charge, not by constraint but willingly, not for shameful gain but eagerly, not as domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory.

7. What does the responsorial Psalm of the day have to teach us?

The responsorial Psalm is taken from Psalm 23:1-6. It also echoes the theme of shepherding.

In this case the Lord is identified for the individual believer as “my shepherd,” with the result that “I shall not want” (that is, I shall not lack anything).

8. What does the gospel reading of the day have to teach us?

The gospel reading for the day is Matthew 16:13-19, in which Jesus declares Peter the rock on which he will build his Church.

9. Does the pope have to sit in the physical Chair of Peter be infallible?

No. Although the pope’s infallible pronouncements are called ex cathedra (Latin, “from the chair”) statements, he does not have to be sitting in the physical chair (which is rather high off the ground in any case).

In fact, he doesn’t have to be seated at all.

He simply has to use the fullness of his authority as the successor of Peter to definitively teaching a particular matter pertaining to faith or morals.

This use of the full extent of his teaching authority is referred to figuratively, as him speaking “from the chair” of St. Peter.

It’s a figurative expression, not a reference to the physical object.

Read more:

Posted on Ave Maria
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Ave Maria Online Magazine

We will continue our wonderful goal of a million voices in prayer reaching the high heavens.

Spread the word by sharing this pledge

Tell your friends and family about A Million Hearts Consecrated to Jesus thru Mary as our Fatima Centennial offering.

Ave Maria Online Magazine
Extravagant displays of devotion to Mary gets curtailed as world culture emphasizes the rational, scientific and technological aspects of life. There seems to be no more time for the more affective expressions of religion.

  Then, after a while, people get fed up with the absolutely rational and logical culture, and rediscover religion and the affective part of the human soul and its needs.

  And Mary is one of those.

Love and support for Pope Francis
The Church is certainly a human and historical institution with all that entails, yet her nature is not essentially political but spiritual: the Church is the People of God, Holy People of God making its way to encounter Jesus Christ. Only from this perspective can a satisfactory account be given of the Church's life and activity.

  Christ is the Church's Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the successor of the Apostle Peter.

  Yet Christ remains the center, not the Sucessor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre.

Browse our archives

A Million Roses for the World
A gift of love, faith and goodwill from the people of the Philippines. Pope Pius IX once said: “Give me an army praying a million rosaries a day and we will conquer the world.” We are not out to conquer the world…but to save it for God to whom it rightly belongs.

%d bloggers like this: