Chaire de Saint Pierre, Apôtre
La chaire d'un évêque, qui se dresse dans sa cathédrale, est le signe de son autorité de docteur, de souverain prêtre et de pasteur. La Chaire de Saint Pierre rappelle la mission que le Christ a confiée à son Apôtre. Pierre est le garant infaillible de la foi de ses frères; la foi de Pierre est le rocher sur lequel le Seigneur a bâti son Église.
Chaire de Saint Pierre
« Jésus a confié les clefs à Pierre pour ouvrir l'entrée du Royaume des cieux, pas pour la fermer »
Fête de la Chaire de St Pierre
Il convient ici de rappeler que la chaire est le siège éminent réservé à l’évêque lorsqu’il préside une assemblée. Il importe peu de savoir s’il y eut jamais, à Rome, une chaire regardée comme la vraie chaire de saint Pierre, mais il faut souligner que l’on y fit grand cas de chaires qui rappelaient le magistère suprême de Pierre que, dès le IV° siècle on célébrait par une fête particulière, Natale Petri de Cathedra, fixée au 22 février.
On se souvient que les anciens Romains, comme en témoignent les vestiges du Cœmeterium Maius, creusaient dans le tuf des sièges qui, aux banquets funéraires (refrigeria), symbolisaient la présence du défunt et sur lesquels ils déposaient de la nourriture. Jusqu’au V° siècle, les chrétiens, dans un tout autre esprit, poursuivirent ces usages et attribuèrent la nourriture déposée aux pauvres. Cette célébration pour les défunts se déroulait au 22 février ; les anciens gallicans qui refusaient toute festivité pendant le Carême qui, parfois, était déjà commencé le 22 février, la reportèrent au 18 janvier, ce qui explique les deux fêtes de la Chaire de saint Pierre dont un scribe besogneux du diocèse d’Auxerre fit maladroitement de la deuxième une fête de la Chaire de saint Pierre à Antioche. Ces antiques fêtes de la Chaire de saint Pierre furent remises à l’honneur par Paul IV, en 1547, qui, par la bulle Ineffabilis, décréta que l’on célébrerait désormais la chaire de saint Pierre à Rome le 18 février et celle d’Antioche le 22 février. La réforme du calendrier par Paul VI n’a laissé qu’une seule de ces fêtes, le 22 février, qui les conjugue toutes les deux.
Le meuble de bois et d’ivoire que renferme la Gloire du Bernin, loin de pouvoir être réputé la vraie chaire de saint Pierre, fut offert au pape Jean VIII par Charles le Chauve, sans doute pour son couronnement impérial, à la Noël 875 : comme on peut le voir sur la reproduction qui se trouve dans le musée historique de la sacristie, le buste de l’Empereur est représenté au centre de la partie transversale horizontale du tympan ; les plaques d’ivoire qui datent du troisième ou du quatrième siècle, grossièrement assemblées, montrent les douze travaux d’Hercule et des animaux fantastiques.
Alexandre VII Chigi ordonna que l’on mît la prétendue chaire de saint Pierre dans l’abside de la basilique (3 mars 1656) pour que les fidèles pussent la vénérer. Depuis 1667, la chaire de saint Pierre ne fut exposée qu’une seule fois, en 1867, pour le dix-huitième centenaire du martyre des saints apôtres Pierre et Paul.
Gloire du Bernin, faite de marbres colorés, de bronze et de stuc dorés, montre le trône pontifical qui, porté par les nuées, descend du ciel comme la nouvelle Jérusalem, au grand émerveillement des docteurs dont il est bon de souligner qu’ils ne la soutiennent pas mais en reçoivent les splendeurs. Portant le regard de haut en bas, le spectateur est progressivement emporté de la terre vers la lumière céleste ; les marbres sont la terre, où le regard est limité par les deux colonnes de marbre précieux, tandis que le ciel ne connaît aucune limite. Le lien entre la terre et le ciel se fait par les quatre docteurs émerveillés par la vérité que le Seigneur a révélée et qu’enseigne l’Eglise par le magistère de Pierre (saint Augustin, mitré, et saint Jean Chrysostome, tête nue, d’une part et, d'autre part, saint Ambroise, mitré, et saint Athanase, tête nue). La mître de saint Ambroise, comme celle de saint Augustin, mesure 1,80 mètre de haut. Sur le dossier de la chaire, le Seigneur communique à saint Pierre le pouvoir de paître ses ouailles. Au sommet de la chaire deux anges présentent la tiare et les clefs. Le Saint-Esprit, figuré sous la forme de la colombe, irradie le trône du pontife romain de lumière divine. La colombe est haute de 95 centimètres et ses ailes ont 1,75 mètre d'envergure.
Dans tout l'univers, Pierre seul est choisi pour présider à la vocation de tous les peuples, à la direction de tous les Apôtres et de tous les Pères de l'Eglise. Ainsi, bien qu’il y ait dans le peuple de Dieu beaucoup de prêtres et beaucoup de pasteurs, Pierre en personne les gouvernerait tous, alors que le Christ les gouverne aussi à titre de chef. Dieu a daigné remettre à cet homme une grande et admirable participation à sa puissance. Et s'il a voulu que les autres chefs aient quelque chose de commun avec lui, tout ce qu'il n'a pas refusé aux autres, c'est toujours par lui qu'il le leur a donné.
Le Seigneur demande à tous les Apôtres quelle est l'opinion des hommes à son sujet. Et ils disent tous la même chose aussi longtemps qu'ils exposent les doutes venus de l'ignorance humaine.
Mais lorsque le Seigneur exige de connaître le sentiment des disciples eux-mêmes, le premier à confesser le Seigneur est celui qui est le premier dans la dignité d'Apôtre. Comme il avait dit : « Vous êtes le Messie, le Fils du Dieu vivant », Jésus lui répondit : « Heureux es-tu, Simon, fils de Yonas, car ce n'est pas la chair et le sang qui t’ont révété cela, mais mon Père qui est aux cieux. » C'est-à-dire : Heureux es-tu parce que c'est mon Père qui t'a enseigné ; l'opinion de la terre ne t'a pas égaré, mais c'est une inspiration céleste qui t'a instruit ; et ce n'est pas la chair et le sang, mais celui dont je suis le Fils unique qui t'a permis de me découvrir.
« Et moi, dit-il, je te le déclare », c'est-à-dire : de même que mon Père t'a manifesté ma divinité, de même moi, je te fais connaître ta supériorité. « Tu es Pierre », c'est-à-dire : moi, je suis le rocher inébranlable, la pierre d'angle, qui fais l'unité de deux réalités séparées, le fondement tel que nul ne peut en poser un autre ; mais toi aussi, tu es pierre, car tu es solide par ma force, et ce que j'ai en propre par ma puissance, tu l'as en commun avec moi du fait que tu y participes.
« Et sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon Église, et la puissance de la mort ne l'emportera pas sur elle. » Sur cette solidité j'érigerai un temple éternel, et la hauteur de mon Église, qui doit la faire pénétrer dans le ciel, s'élèvera sur la fermeté de cette foi.
Les puissances de l'enfer n'arrêteront pas cette confession, les liens de la mort ne l'enchaîneront pas : car cette parole est une parole de vie. Et de même qu'elle porte jusqu'au ciel ceux qui la confessent, de même plonge-t-elle dans les enfers ceux qui la refusent.
C'est pourquoi il est dit à saint Pierre : « Je te donnerai les clefs du Royaume des Cieux ; tout ce que tu auras lié sur la terre sera lié dans les Cieux, et tout ce que tu auras délié sur la terre sera délié dans les Cieux. »
Sans doute, la possession de ce pouvoir a passé encore aux autres Apôtres et l'institution née de ce décret s'est étendue à tous les chefs de l'Eglise. Mais ce n'est pas en vain que ce qui doit être signifié à tous est confié à un seul. En effet, ce pouvoir est remis à Pierre personnellement, parce que Pierre est donné en modèle à tous ceux qui gouvernent l'Église.
Saint Léon le Grand
Dom Guéranger, l’Année Liturgique
Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
An ancient western custom celebrates the festival of the consecration of a bishop. As the bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church, Saint Peter's feast is celebrated by Christians in a special way. As to the fact: few archaeologists now doubt what the Church has always affirmed, that Saint Peter resumed his work at Rome after his founding of the see of Antioch (as attested by Eusebius, Origen, Jerome, and many others). He served as bishop of Antioch for seven years according to Saint Gregory the Great. Together with Saint Paul, Peter founded a Church at Rome, where he worked for 25 years and where the two were crowned with martyrdom. It was at Rome that Peter took his permanent seat of authority. It was appropriate that Rome should (Encyclopedia). The feast of Natale Petri de Cathedra was included in the calendar of Pope Liberius (c. 354), Gregory's sacramentary, and all martyrologies. We can see that it was celebrated in 6th-century France by its appearance at the Council of Tours.
According to Husenbeth, early Christians, especially in the East, recalled their baptism on its anniversary. On their spiritual birthday, they would renew baptismal vows and render God special thanksgiving for heavenly adoption. That bishops similarly recalled the anniversary of their consecration can be seen in four sermons by Saint Leo and the liturgical celebration of that day for several saints. Today we should thank God for the establishment of His Church, through which we learn of His love and by which we are fed daily on the Bread of Heaven and the word of God. Let us also pray for unity within the Body of Christ (Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
SOURCE : http://www.saintpatrickdc.org/ss/0222.shtml
The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter in general about the formation of the Church when Christ said, “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” It has been celebrated at Rome, Italy from the early days of the Christian era on 18 January, in commemoration of the day when Saint Peter held his first service in Rome. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch, commemorating his foundation of the See of Antioch, has also been long celebrated at Rome, on 22 February. At each place a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used while presiding at Mass. One of the chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes who had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs. One of these phials, preserved in the cathedral treasury of Monza, Italy, had a label reading, “oleo de sede ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus” (oils from the chair where Saint Peter first sat). The Mass for both feast days is the same; the Collect is as follows:
“Oh, God, who, together with the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, didst bestow on blessed Peter Thy Apostle the pontificate of binding and loosing, grant that by the aid of his intercession we may be released from the yoke of our sins.”
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- Golden Legend
- Lives of the Saints: Saint Peter’s Chair at Antioch, by Father Alban Butler
- Lives of the Saints: Saint Peter’s Chair at Rome, by Father Alban Butler
- Pictorial Lives of the Saints
- Roman Martyrology, 1914 edition
- Saints of the Day, by Katherine Rabenstein
- Catholic Culture
- Catholic Fire
- Catholic Ireland
- Catholic Lane
- Catholic News Agency
- Franciscan Media
- John Paul Meenan
- R C Spirituality
- Regina Magazine
- Saints Stories for All Ages
- “Chair of Peter“. CatholicSaints.Info. 22 May 2020. Web. 22 February 2021. <https://catholicsaints.info/chair-of-peter/>
Chair of Peter
Under this head will be treated:
II. The Chair itself
The annual feast of cathedra petri at RomeFrom the earliest times the Church at Rome celebrated on 18 January the memory of the day when the Apostle held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City. According to Duchesne and de Rossi, the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" (Weissenburg manuscript) reads as follows: "XV KL. FEBO. Dedicatio cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit" (fifteenth day before the calends of February, the dedication of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle in which Peter the Apostle first sat at Rome). The Epternach manuscript (Codex Epternacensis) of the same work, says briefly: "cath. petri in roma" (the Chair of Peter in Rome).
In its present (ninth-century) form the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" gives a second feast of the Chair of St. Peter for 22 February, but all the manuscripts assign it to Antioch, not to Rome. Thus the oldest manuscript, that of Berne, says: "VIII kal. mar. cathedræ sci petri apostoli qua sedit apud antiochiam". The Weissenburg manuscript says: "Natl [natale] sci petri apostoli cathedræ qua sedit apud antiocia." However, the words qua sedit apud antiochiam are seen at once to be a later addition. Both feasts are Roman; indeed, that of 22 February was originally the more important. This is clear from the Calendar of Philocalus drawn up in the year 354, and going back to the year 311; it makes no mention of the January feast but speaks thus of 22 February: "VIII Kl. Martias: natale Petri de cathedra" (eighth day before the Calends of March, the birthday [i.e. feast] of the Chair of Peter). It was not until after the insertion of Antioch in the copies of the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" that the feast of February gave way in importance to that of January. The Roman Church, therefore, at an early date celebrated a first and a second assumption of the episcopal office in Rome by St. Peter. This double celebration was also held in two places, in the Vatican Basilica and in a cemetery (coemeterium) on the Via Salaria. At both places a chair (cathedra) was venerated which the Apostle had used as presiding officer of the assembly of the faithful. The first of these chairs stood in the Vatican Basilica, in the baptismal chapel built by Pope Damasus; the neophytes in albis (white baptismal robes) were led from the baptistery to the pope seated on this ancient cathedra, and received from him the consignatio, i.e. the Sacrament of Confirmation. Reference is made to this custom in an inscription of Damasus which contains the line: "una Petri sedes, unum verumque lavacrum" (one Chair of Peter, one true font of baptism). St. Ennodius of Pavia (d. 521) speaks of it thus ("Libellus pro Synodo", near the end): "Ecce nunc ad gestatoriam sellam apostolicæ confessionis uda mittunt limina candidatos; et uberibus gaudio exactore fletibus collata Dei beneficio dona geminantur" (Behold now the neophytes go from the dripping threshold to the portable chair of the Apostolic confession; amid abundant tears called forth by joy the gifts of Divine grace are doubled). While therefore in the apse of the Vatican Basilica there stood a cathedra on which the pope sat amid the Roman clergy during the pontifical Mass, there was also in the same building a second cathedra from which the pope administered to the newly baptized the Sacrament of Confirmation. The Chair of St. Peter in the apse was made of marble and was built into the wall, that of the baptistery was movable and could be carried. Ennodius calls the latter a gestatoria sedes; throughout the Middle Ages it was always brought on 22 February from the above-mentioned consignatorium or place of confirmation to the high altar. That day the pope did not use the marble cathedra at the back of the apse but sat on this movable cathedra, which was, consequently, made of wood. The importance of this feast was heightened by the fact that 22 February was considered the anniversary of the day when Peter bore witness, by the Sea of Tiberias, to the Divinity of Christ and was again appointed by Christ to be the Rock of His Church. According to very ancient Western liturgies, 22 February was the day "quo electus est 1. Petrus papa" (on which Peter was first chosen pope). The Mass of this feast calls it at the beginning: "solemnitatis prædicandæ dies præcipue nobilis in quo . . . . beatus Bar-Jona voce Redemptoris fide devotâ prælatus est et per hanc Petri petram basis ecclesiæ fixus est", i.e. this day is called especially praiseworthy because on it the blessed Bar-Jona, by reason of his devout faith, was raised to pre-eminence by the words of the Redeemer, and through this rock of Peter was established the foundation of the Church. And the Oratio (collect) says: "Deus, qui hodiernâ die beatum Petrum post te dedisti caput ecclesiæ, cum te ille vere confessus sit" (O God, who didst this day give us as head of the Church, after Thyself, the Blessed Peter, etc.).
The second of the aforementioned chairs is referred to about 600 by an Abbot Johannes. He had been commissioned by Pope Gregory the Great to collect in special little phials oil from the lamps which burned at the graves of the Roman martyrs (see CATACOMBS; MARTYR) for the Lombard queen, Theodolinda. According to the manuscript list of these oils preserved in the cathedral treasury of Monza, Italy, one of these vessels had on it the statement: "oleo de sede ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus" (oils from the chair where St. Peter first sat). Other ancient authorities describe the site as "ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Peter baptized), or "ad fontes sancti Petri; ad Nymphas sancti Petri" (at the fountain of Saint Peter). Formerly this site was pointed out in the coemeterium majus (principal cemetery) on the Via Nomentana; it is now certain that it was on the Via Salaria, and was connected with the coemeterium, or cemetery, of Priscilla and the villa of the Acilii (Acilii Glabriones), situated above this catacomb. The foundation of this villa, showing masonry of a very early date (opus reticulatum), still exists. Both villa and cemetery, in one of whose burial chambers are several epitaphs of members of the family, or gens, of the Acilii, belong to the Apostolic Period. It is most probable that Priscilla, who gave her name as foundress to the catacomb, was the wife of Acilius Glabrio, executed under Domitian. There is hardly any doubt that the site, "ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus, ubi Petrus baptizabat" (where Saint Peter first sat, where Peter baptized), should be sought, not in an underground cubiculum (chamber) in the catacombs, but in an oratory above ground. At least nothing has been found in the oldest part of the cemetery of Priscilla now fully excavated, referring to a cathedra, or chair.
The feast of the Cathedra Petri was therefore celebrated on the Via Salaria on 18 January; in the Vatican Basilica it was observed on 22 February. It is easy to believe that after the triumph of Christianity the festival could be celebrated with greater pomp in the magnificent basilica erected by Constantine the Great over the confessio, or grave of Peter, than in a chapel far distant from the city on the Via Salaria. Yet the latter could rightly boast in its favour that it was there Saint Peter first exercised at Rome the episcopal office ("ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus", as Abbot Johannes wrote, or "qua primo Rome petrus apostolus sedit", as we read in the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum" at 18 January). This double festival of the Chair of St. Peter is generally attributed to a long absence of the Apostle from Rome. As, how ever, the spot, "ubi s. Petrus baptizabat, ubi prius sedit" was distant from the city, it is natural to think that the second feast of the cathedra is connected with the opening of a chapel for Christian worship in the city itself.
The chair itselfThe Goths, who conquered and pillaged Rome in 410, advanced toward the city by the Via Salaria and the Via Nomentana; the same roads were traversed in the sixth and seventh centuries by later German invaders of Roman territory. Not only the churches, therefore, but even the cemeteries on these thoroughfares were easily given to plunder and devastation. We have seen, moreover, that as late as 600 a lamp was burning on the site "ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus". If the original chair of the Apostle had still been there at that time, would it have been saved from destruction in the pillage that did not spare the sarcophagi in the catacombs? The words of the Abbot Johannes, "oleo de sede, ubi prius sedit sanctus Petrus", seem to leave scarcely a doubt as to this. The fact, evidenced by the martyrologies (see above), that by the ninth century one of the two feasts of the Roman cathedra had drifted away to Antioch, shows that the cathedra of the Via Salaria must have perished as early as the sixth or seventh century.
We come now to the question, where stood originally the chair shown and venerated in the Vatican Basilica during the fourth century? On the strength of ancient tradition it has been customary to designate the church of Santa Pudenziana as the spot where, in the house of the supposed Senator Pudens, the two great Apostles not only received hospitable entertainment, but also held Christian services. But the legends connected with Santa Pudenziana do not offer sufficient guarantee for the theory that this church was the cathedral and residence of the popes before Constantine. At the close of his Epistle to the Romans (xvi, 5), St. Paul mentions a place where religious services were held, the house of Aquila and Prisca (ten kat oikon auton ekklesian — now Santa Prisca on the Aventine). Aquila and Prisca are first among the many to whom the Apostle sends salutations. Aquila's connexion with the Catacomb of Priscilla is still shown by the epitaphs of that burial place. In 1776 there was excavated on the Aventine, near the present church of Santa Prisca, a chapel with frescoes of the fourth century; in these frescoes pictures of the two Apostles were still recognizable. Among the rubbish was also found a gilded glass with the figures of Peter and Paul. The feast of the dedication of this church (an important point) still falls on the same day as the above-described cathedra feast of 22 February; this church, therefore, continued to celebrate the traditional feast even after the destruction of the object from which it sprang. In the crypt of Santa Prisca is shown a hollowed capital, bearing in thirteenth-century letters the inscription: BAPTISMUS SANCTI PETRI (Baptism of Saint Peter), undoubtedly the echo of an ancient tradition of the administration of baptism here by Peter. In this way we have linked together a series of considerations which make it probable that the spot "ubi secundo sedebat sanctus Petrus" (where Saint Peter sat for the second time), must be sought in the present church of Santa Prisca; in other words, that the chair referred to by St. Damasus was kept there in the period before Constantine. It was there, consequently, that was celebrated the "natale Petri de cathedrâ", set for 22 February in the calendars beginning with the year 354. It follows also that this is the cathedra referred to in the oldest testimonia which speak of the chair from which Peter taught at Rome. The (third-century) poem, "Adversus Marcionem", says (P.L., II, 1099):
How Pope Damasus might be led to transfer the cathedra Petri from Santa Prisca to the Vatican, can be readily understood from the circumstances of that time. From the reign of the first Constantine the Lateran had been the residence of the popes, and its magnificent basilica their cathedral, while the neighbouring baptistery of Constantine served for the solemn administration of baptism on the eve of Easter. In the half-century from 312 to 366 (date of the accession of Damasus), the importance of Santa Prisca, its baptistery, and its cathedra must naturally have declined. Damasus could therefore be certain of the approval of all Rome when he transferred the venerable Apostolic relic from the small chapel in Santa Prisca to his own new baptistery in the Vatican, where it certainly remained to the first quarter of the sixth century, after which it was kept in different chapels of the Vatican Basilica. During the Middle Ages it was customary to exhibit it yearly to the faithful; the newly-elected pope was also solemnly enthroned on this venerable chair, a custom that ceased at the transfer of the papal capital to Avignon, in the early part of the fourteenth century. In order to preserve for posterity this precious relic, Alexander VII (1655-67) enclosed, after the designs of Bernini, the Cathedra Petri above the apsidal altar of St. Peter's in a gigantic casing of bronze, supported by four Doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Athanasius, Chrysostom). Thenceforth, for 200 years, it was not exhibited to the public. In 1867, however, on the occasion of the eighteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles, it was exposed for the veneration of the faithful. At that time the Alessandri brothers photographed the chair, and that photograph is reproduced here. The seat is about one foot ten inches above the ground, and two feet eleven and seven-eighths inches wide; the sides are two feet one and one-half inches deep; the height of the back up to the tympanum is three feet five and one-third inches; the entire height of the chair is four feet seven and one-eighth inches. According to the examination then made by Padre Garucci and Giovanni Battista de Rossi, the oldest portion (see illustration) is a perfectly plain oaken arm-chair with four legs connected by cross-bars. The wood is much worm-eaten, and pieces have been cut from various spots at different times, evidently for relics. To the right and left of the seat four strong iron rings, intended for carrying-poles, are set into the legs. At a later date, perhaps in the ninth century, this famous chair was strengthened by the addition of pieces of acacia wood. The latter wood has inlaid in it a rich ornamentation of ivory. For the adornment of the front of the seat eighteen small panels of ivory have been used, on which the labours of Hercules, also fabulous animals, have been engraved; in like manner it was common at this period to ornament the covers of books and reliquaries with ivory panels or carved stones representing mythological scenes. The back is divided by small columns and arches into four fields and finishes at the top in a tympanum which has for ornamentation a large round opening between two smaller ones. The tympanum is surrounded on all sides by strips of ivory engraved in arabesques. At the centre of the horizontal strip a picture of an emperor (not seen in the illustration) is carved in the ivory; it is held to be a portrait of Charles the Bald. The arabesque of acanthus leaves filled with fantastic representations of animals, and the rough execution of the work, would make the period of this emperor (884) a probable date. What still remains of the old cathedra scarcely permits an opinion as to the original form. In any case it was a heavy chair made of plain, straight pieces of wood, so that it cannot be considered a sella curulis of Pudens, as earlier tradition held it to be. If the four rings on the two sides belong to the original chair (Ennodius of Pavia about the sixth century used the term sedes gestatoria as an expression universally understood in reference to this chair), then it was probably an ordinary carrying-chair, such as was commonly used in ancient Rome.
While the two chairs were the visible memorials of the earliest origins of Peter's Apostolic work at Rome, the recollection of his first arrival in the city is still preserved in the litanioe majores (greater litanies) on 25 April. On this day is also celebrated the feast of St. Mark, whom St. Peter had sent to Alexandria in Egypt. Antioch and Alexandria, the two most important patriarchates of the East, were, in common with Rome, founded by Peter. Gregory the Great refers as follows to this spiritual relationship with the Roman Patriarchate of the West, in a letter to the Patriarch Eulogius (P.L., LXXVII, 899): "Quum multi sint Apostoli, pro ipso autem principatu sola Apostolorum principis sedes in auctoritate convaluit, quæ in tribus locis unius est. Ipse enim sublimavit sedem, in quâ etiam quiescere et præsertim vitam finire dignatus est. Ipse decoravit sedem, in quâ Evangelistam (Marcum) discipulum misit. Ipse firmavit sedem, in quâ septem annis, quamvis discessurus, sedit. Quum ergo unius atque una sit sedes, cui ex auctoritate divinâ tres nunc episcopi præsident, quidquid ego de vobis boni audio, hoc mihi imputo" (Though there are many Apostles, pre-eminence of authority belongs permanently to none other than the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles, which Chair though established in three places remains nevertheless that of one and the same [Apostle]. He lifted it to the highest dignity in the place [Rome] where he deigned to fix his residence and end his life. He honoured it in the city [Alexandria] to which he sent his disciple, the Evangelist Mark. He strengthened it in the city [Antioch] where, though destined to depart, he sat for seven years. Since therefore the Chair in which now by divine authority three bishops preside is the identical chair of the self-same [Peter], I take myself whatever good I hear concerning you).
We conclude, therefore, that there is no reason for doubting the genuineness of the relic preserved at the Vatican, and known as the Cathedra Petri. According to Eusebius, Jerusalem preserved the cathedra of St. James (Church History VII.19), Alexandria that of St. Mark (G. Secchi, La cattedra alessandrina di San Marco, Venice, 1853). Tertullian, in the above quoted passage, refers to the value placed by the Apostolic Churches on the possession of the chairs of their founders (apud quas ipsæ adhuc cathedræ apostolorum suis locis præsident), and in enumerating them he puts Rome first. Moreover, the other writers above quoted, and whose testimony reaches back to the second century, all postulate the presence in Rome of an actual Cathedra Petri, See also SAINT PETER; PRIMACY.
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit
in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church.
Jesus bestowed to Peter a special place among the Apostles. He was one of the three who were with Christ on special occasions, such as the Transfiguration of Christ and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was the only Apostle to whom Christ appeared on the first day after the Resurrection. St. Peter, in turn, often spoke on behalf of the Apostles.
When Jesus asked the Apostles: “Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?”
Simon replied: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you: That you are Peter [Cephas, a rock], and upon this rock [Cephas] I will build my Church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven”. (Mt 16:13-20)
In saying this Jesus made St. Peter the head of the entire community of believers and placed the spiritual guidance of the faithful in St. Peter’s hands.
The earliest mention of a celebration of the See of St Peter on this day is in a calendar dating to 311. It is believed that on this day St Peter made his confession of faith, and accordingly an older Collect for the feast said that on this day the Lord gave St Peter to the Church to be its head, as Christ’s Vicar on earth.
THAT Saint Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by Eusebius, 1 Origen, 2 St. Jerom, 3 St. Innocent, 4 Pope Gelasius, in his Roman Council, 5 St. Chrysostom and others. It was just that the prince of the apostles should take this city under his particular care and inspection, which was then the capital of the East, and in which the faith took so early and so deep root as to give birth in it to the name of Christians. St. Chrysostom says, that St. Peter made there a long stay: St. Gregory the Great, 6 that he was seven years bishop of Antioch; not that he resided there all that time, but only that he had a particular care over that church. If he sat twenty-five years at Rome, the date of his establishing his chair at Antioch must be within three years after our Saviour’s ascension; for in that supposition he must have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius.
The festival of St. Peter’s chair in general, Natale Petri de Cathedrâ, is marked on this day in the most ancient calendar extant, made in the time of Pope Liberius, about the year 354. 7 It also occurs in Gregory’s sacramentary, and in all the martyrologies. It was kept in France in the sixth century, as appears from the council of Tours, 8 and from Le Conte. 9
In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to keep the anniversary of his baptism, on which he renewed his baptismal vows, and gave thanks to God for his heavenly adoption: this they called their spiritual birth-day. The bishops in like manner kept the anniversary of their own consecration, as appears from four sermons of St. Leo on the anniversary of his accession or assumption to the pontifical dignity; and this was frequently continued by the people after their decease, out of respect to their memory. St. Leo says, we ought to celebrate the chair of St. Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom; for as in this he was exalted to a throne of glory in heaven, so by the former he was installed head of the church on earth. 10
On this festival we are especially bound to adore and thank the divine goodness for the establishment and propagation of his church, and earnestly to pray that in his mercy he may preserve the same, and dilate its pale, that his name may be glorified by all nations, and by all hearts, to the boundaries of the earth, for his divine honour and the salvation of souls, framed to his divine image, and the price of his adorable blood. The church of Christ is his spiritual kingdom: he is not only the architect and founder; but continues to govern it, and by his spirit, to animate its members to the end of the world as its invisible head: though he has left in St. Peter and his successors a vicar, or lieutenant, as a visible head, with an established hierarchy for its exterior government. If we love him and desire his honour, if we love men on so many titles linked with us, can we cease weeping and praying, that by his sweet omnipotent grace he may subdue all the enemies of his church, converting to it all infidels and apostates? In its very bosom sinners fight against him. Though these continue his members by faith, they are dead members, because he lives not in them by his grace and charity, reigns not in their hearts, animates them not with his spirit. He will indeed always live by grace and sanctity in many members of his mystical body. Let us pray that by the destruction of the tyranny of sin all souls may subject themselves to the reign of his holy love. Good Jesus! for your mercy’s sake, hear me in this above all other petitions: never suffer me to be separated from you by forfeiting your holy love: may I remain always rooted and grounded in your charity, as is the will of your Father. Eph. iii.
Note 1. Chron. and Hist. l. 3. c. 30. [back]
Note 2. Hom. 6. in Luc. [back]
Note 3. In Catal. c. 1. [back]
Note 4. Ep. 18. t. 2. Conc. p. 1269. [back]
Note 5. Conc. t. 4. p. 1262. [back]
Note 6. Ep. 40. l. 7. t. 2. p. 888. Ed. Ben. [back]
Note 7. Some have imagined that the feast of the Chair of St. Peter was not known, at least in Africa, in the fifth century, because it occurs not in the ancient calendar of Carthage. But how should the eighth day before the calends of March now appear in it, since the part is lost from the fourteenth before the calends of March to the eleventh before the calends of May? Hence St. Pontius, deacon, and martyr, on the eighth before the ides of March; St. Donatus, and some other African martyrs, are not there found. At least it is certain that it was kept at Rome long before that time. Saint Leo preached a sermon on St. Peter’s chair. (Serm. 100. t. 1. p. 285. ed. Rom.) Quesnel denied it to be genuine in his first edition; but in the second at Lyons, in 1700, he corrected this mistake, and proved this sermon to be St. Leo’s; which is more fully demonstrated by Cacciari in his late Roman edition of St. Leo’s works, t. 1. p. 285. [back]
Note 8. Can. 22. [back]
Note 9. Ad an. 566. [back]
Note 10. Ad an. 566. [back]
Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume II: February. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.
SOURCE : http://www.bartleby.com/210/2/221.html
Of the Chairing of Saint Peter the Apostle.
The chair is said in three manners, that is, the chair royal, as it is said in the book of Kings: David sitting in a chair. And there is a chair of priests, as Regum primo, Eli, the priest sitting upon a chair. And the third is the chair for a master as is said, Matt. xxiii.: Upon the chair of Moses, etc. Then Saint Peter sat in a chair royal, for he was prince of the apostles, and he sat in the chair of priests, for he was lord of all the priests, and in the chair of the master, for he was a great doctor of christian men. The first was of equity, the second of quantity, and the third of truth and of virtue.
Holy church halloweth the feast of Saint Peter the apostle, and this day was Saint Peter honorably enhanced in the city of Antioch, and set in the chair as a bishop. Many causes there be wherefore this feast is hallowed and established. Of whom the first is, as is said in a sermon of this feast, that when Saint Peter went for to preach the word of God and founded holy church by his predication, Niceta and Aquila showed unto the city of Antioch that Peter the apostle of God came thither, wherefore the people and also the nobles of the city came against him, and knowledged themselves culpable of that they had holden of the predication of Simon Magus, which was an enchanter. After, they did to be brought tofore him all such people as were vexed with divers maladies and sicknesses, of whom there were so many that they might not be numbered. Saint Peter beheld their repentance, and also that they believed firmly in the name of God, and anon lift up his hands unto heaven, and made his prayer to God saying: O God, Father Almighty, I yield to thee thankings in this that thou hast worthily fulfilled the promises of thy blessed Son, by which all creatures may know that thou art one only God in heaven and in earth. And after, he ascended up into an high place, and all the multitude of sick men were brought tofore him, and he said to them in this manner: Ye that see me a mortal man as ye be, ween ne suppose not ye that by me ye may be healed, but by him that is descended from heaven to earth, which giveth to all them that believe in him full health of body and of soul. This ought ye to believe to the end that all may know that ye that thus believe entirely with all your heart in Jesu Christ may be made whole and guerished by him. And anon all they that were sick cried with a high voice: We believe that Jesu Christ is very God. Suddenly a light appeared there, and all the sick people were guerished and healed of whatsomever malady they had. And that same day the Holy Ghost showed so greatly his grace, that from the least unto the most, all believed in our Lord Jesu Christ. And there were baptized in seven days more than ten thousand persons of men, women, and children, and also Theophilus, the lord and provost of the city, to whom Saint Peter had raised his son which had been fourteen years dead. And some say that of his palace he made a church in the which all the people set up a chair for Saint Peter to sit in more higher, for to preach the doctrine of Jesu Christ, and the better to be heard and seen. And of the exalting thus of Saint Peter into this chair, this feast taketh the name of the chairing of Saint Peter. And in this church was Saint Peter seven years, and from thence he went to Rome and governed the church of Rome twenty-five years. That other reason why this feast was established was for the reverence of the crown or tonsure of his head, which yet clerks bear and have, for like as some say, at this journey was first found the crown of the clerks. For when Saint Peter preached at the first time in the city of Antioch, the paynims sheared him upon his head above, like a fool, in despising christian law. And because this was done to Saint Peter to do him despite and shame, it was sith stablished that the clergy should have his crown shaven in sign of right great honour and authority. And it is to wit that in the crown be three things: first the head is discovered and bare above and the hair cut away, and the crown is round. There be three reasons why the head is bare, of which Saint Denis assigneth the twain, and saith the rasure and cutting off of the hair signifieth pure life and clean without any arraying withoutforth; for like as hairs be naturally for to adorn the head, right so deform they the head when they be cut off by mockery or otherwise. Also good manners which ought to adorn the clean life, deform the holy conversation when they be left and taken away by habits covetous and proud. Also the rasure or shaving which is on the overmost part of the head signifieth that between God and them ought to be nothing ne mean that should displease God, but their love should be in God without any letting and empeshment and should address in him their thoughts. The second thing that is in the crown is that the hairs be shaven clean away. By that is signified that the clerks ought to take away from their hearts all vain thoughts which might let and empesh the service divine, and also ought to be withdrawn from all temporal business, and only to have their necessities. The third thing that is in the crown is that it is round, and this figure seemeth good by many reasons. The first is that a round figure hath neither beginning nor end. The second is, in a round crown be no corners, and as Saint Bernard saith whereas be corners there is gladly filth, and that is to be understood that the clerks ought not to have in their hearts no corners where the filth of sins might assemble, but ought to have a clean conscience, and also they ought to have truth in their mouths. For as saith Saint Jerome: Truth seeketh no corners. The third reason is, for like as the figure of a crown is most fair among all other, so the conversation of clerks or priests ought to be best adorned of good manners among all other lay people. The fourth reason is, for like as a crown hath but one way round and no figure, like as Saint Austin saith: There is none so simple a figure as that which hath but one way, also the clerks ought to be simple in their conversation, without fiction and pride. And it is to wit that holy church halloweth of Saint Peter three feasts in the year for three gifts that he hath power to give to the people. The first is the chair, for he giveth absolution of sins. The second feast is called advincula, that is the first day of the August, for he by his power transumeth the pain perpetual due for sins mortal into pain temporal. The third feast is of his martyrdom, for he hath power to release some pains of penance enjoined for the sins confessed, and for these three causes he is digne and worthy honorably to be served and worshipped. Let us then pray to him that he may impetre and get to us remission of all our sins, and after this short transitory life we may come to everlasting joy and glory in heaven. Amen.
Saint Peter having triumphed over the devil in the East, pursued 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 centre 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. Saint Peter took that province upon himself, and repairing to Rome, there preached the faith, and established his ecclesiastical chair. That Saint Peter preached in Rome, founded the church there, and died there by martyrdom under Nero, are 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; also by the prerogatives, rights, and privileges which that church enjoyed from those early ages, in consequence of this title. It was an ancient custom observed by churches, to keep an annual festival of the consecration of their bishops. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter is found in ancient martyrologies. Christians justly celebrate the founding of this mother-church, the centre of Catholic communion, in thanksgiving to God for His mercies to His Church, and to implore His future blessings.
Reflection – 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.
Mercoledì, 22 febbraio 1967
Nella festa della cattedra di San Pietro
Questa udienza generale trova oggi, 22 febbraio, la Basilica di S. Pietro in festa per la celebrazione d’una sua particolare solennità: quella della «Cattedra di San Pietro». Dubiterà qualcuno che si tratti d’una festa di recente istituzione, dovuta allo sviluppo della dottrina circa il Pontificato romano, nel secolo scorso. No, si tratta di un’antichissima festa, che risale al terzo secolo (cf. Lexicon für Th. und K. 6, 66), e che si distingue dalla festa per la memoria anniversaria del martirio dell’Apostolo (29 giugno). Già nel quarto secolo la festa odierna è indicata come «Natale Petri de cathedra» (cf. Radò, Ench. Lit, II, 1375). Fino a pochi anni fa il nostro calendario registrava due feste della Cattedra di S. Pietro, una il 18 gennaio, riferita alla sede di Roma, l’altra il 22 febbraio, riferita alla sede di Antiochia; ma si è visto che questa geminazione non aveva fondamento né storico, né liturgico.
A che cosa si riferisce questo culto? Il primo pensiero corre alla Cattedra materiale, cioè alle reliquie del seggio sul quale l’Apostolo si sarebbe seduto per presiedere all’assemblea dei Fedeli, perché sempre in tutte le comunità cristiane il seggio episcopale era tenuto in grande onore. Si chiama ancor oggi cattedrale la chiesa dove il Vescovo risiede e governa. Ma la questione circa l’autenticità materiale di tali reliquie riguarda piuttosto l’archeologia, che la liturgia; sappiamo che tale questione ha una lunga storia di difficile ricostruzione, e che il grandioso e celebre monumento di bronzo, eretto per ordine di Papa Urbano VIII, ad opera del Bernini, nell’abside di questa Basilica, si chiama «l’altare della Cattedra», il quale, a prescindere dai cimeli archeologici ivi contenuti, vuole onorare principalmente il loro significato: vuole cioè riferirsi a ciò che dalla Cattedra è simboleggiato, la potestà pastorale e magistrale di colui che occupò la Cattedra stessa, considerata piuttosto nella sua origine costitutiva e nella sua tradizione ecclesiastica, che non nella sua entità materiale (cf. Cabrol, in DACL, III, 88: la festa «ricordava l’episcopato di S. Pietro a Roma, piuttosto che la venerazione d’una Cattedra materiale dell’Apostolo»). «Quello che conta e che commuove e la glorificazione di questa "Cattedra", la quale, fra tanto susseguirsi e variare di sistemi, di teorie, di ipotesi, che si contraddicono e cadono l’unta dopo l’altra, è l’unica che, invitta, faccia certa, da duemila anni, la grande famiglia dei cattolici; che anche su questa terra è dato agli uomini di conoscere talune immutabili verità supreme: le vere e sole che appaghino l’angoscioso spirito dell’uomo» (cf. Galassi Paluzzi, S. Pietro in Vat., II, 65).
Dunque: onoreremo nella Cattedra di San Pietro l’autorità che Cristo conferì all’Apostolo, e che nella Cattedra trovo il suo simbolo, il suo concetto popolare e la sua espressione ecclesiale. Come non ricordare che, fin dalla metà del terzo secolo, il grande vescovo e martire africano, San Cipriano, adopera questo termine per indicare la potestà della Chiesa Romana, in virtù della Cattedra di Pietro, donde scaturisce, egli dice, l’unità della gerarchia? (cf. Ep. 59, 16: Bayard, Correspondance, II, 184). E quanto alla festa della Cattedra basti citare una delle frasi dei tre discorsi attribuiti a S. Agostino e ad essa relativi: «L’istituzione della odierna solennità ha preso il nome di Cattedra dai nostri predecessori per il fatto che si dice avere il primo apostolo Pietro occupato la sua Cattedra episcopale. Giustamente dunque le Chiese onorano l’origine di quella sede, che per il bene delle Chiese l’Apostolo accettò» (Serm. 190, I; P.L. 39, 2100).
Noi faremo bene, Figli carissimi, a dare a questa festività la venerazione, che le è propria, ripensando alla insostituibile e provvidenziale funzione del magistero ecclesiastico, il quale ha nel magistero pontificio la sua più autorevole espressione. Si sa, pur troppo, come oggi certe correnti di pensiero, che ancora si dice cattolico, cerchino di attribuire una priorità nella formulazione normativa delle verità di fede alla comunità dei fedeli sulla funzione docente dell’Episcopato e del Pontificato romano, contrariamente agli insegnamenti scritturali e alla dottrina della Chiesa, apertamente confermata nel recente Concilio, e con grave pericolo per la genuina concezione della Chiesa stessa, per la sua interiore sicurezza e per la sua missione evangelizzatrice nel mondo.
Unico nostro maestro è Cristo, che più volte ha rivendicato a Sé questo titolo (Matth. 23, 8; Io. 13, 14); da Lui solo viene a noi la Parola rivelatrice del Padre (Matth. 11, 27); da Lui solo la verità liberatrice (lo. 8, 32), che ci apre le vie della salvezza; da Lui solo lo Spirito Paraclito (Io. 15: 26), che alimenta la fede e l’amore nella sua Chiesa. Ma è pur Lui che ha voluto istituire uno strumento trasmittente e garante dei suoi insegnamenti, investendo Pietro e gli Apostoli del mandato di trasmettere con autorità e con sicurezza il suo pensiero e la sua volontà. Onorando perciò il magistero gerarchico della Chiesa onoriamo Cristo Maestro e riconosciamo quel mirabile equilibrio di funzioni da Lui stabilito, affinché la sua Chiesa potesse perennemente godere della certezza della verità rivelata, dell’unità della medesima fede, della coscienza della sua autentica vocazione, dell’umiltà di sapersi sempre discepola del divino Maestro, della carità che la compagina in un unico mistico corpo organizzato, e la abilita alla sicura testimonianza del Vangelo.
Voglia il Signore conservare ed accrescere, per i bisogni del nostro tempo, questo culto amoroso, fiducioso e filiale al magistero ecclesiastico stabilito da Cristo; e sia a noi propizio l’Apostolo, che primo ne ebbe il mandato, e che qui ancora, dalla sua Cattedra romana, per mano Nostra, tutti vi benedica.
© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Cattedra di San Pietro Apostolo
Il 22 febbraio per il calendario della Chiesa cattolica rappresenta il giorno della festa della Cattedra di San Pietro. Si tratta della ricorrenza in cui viene messa in modo particolare al centro la memoria della peculiare missione affidata da Gesù a Pietro. In realtà la storia ci ha tramandato l'esistenza di due cattedre dell'Apostolo: prima del suo viaggio e del suo martirio a Roma, la sede del magistero di Pietro fu infatti identificata in Antiochia. E la liturgia celebrava questi due momenti con due date diverse: il 18 gennaio (Roma) e il 22 febbraio (Antiochia). La riforma del calendario le ha unificate nell'unica festa di oggi. Essa - viene spiegato nel Messale Romano - "con il simbolo della cattedra pone in rilievo la missione di maestro e di pastore conferita da Cristo a Pietro, da lui costituito, nella sua persona e in quella dei successori, principio e fondamento visibile dell'unità della Chiesa".
Martirologio Romano: Festa della Cattedra di san Pietro Apostolo, al quale disse il Signore: «Tu sei Pietro e su questa pietra edificherò la mia Chiesa». Nel giorno in cui i Romani erano soliti fare memoria dei loro defunti, si venera la sede della nascita al cielo di quell’Apostolo, che trae gloria dalla sua vittoria sul colle Vaticano ed è chiamata a presiedere alla comunione universale della carità.
Per ricordare due importanti tappe della missione compiuta dal principe degli apostoli, S. Pietro, e lo stabilirsi del cristianesimo prima in Antiochia, poi a Roma, il Martirologio Romano celebra il 22 febbraio la festa della cattedra di S. Pietro ad Antiochia e il 18 gennaio quella della sua cattedra a Roma. La recente riforma del calendario ha unificato le due commemorazioni al 22 febbraio, data che trova riscontro in un'antica tradizione, riferita dalla Depositio mar rum. In effetti, in questo giorno si celebrava la cattedra romana, anticipata poi nella Gallia al 18 gennaio, per evitare che la festa cadesse nel tempo di Quaresima.
In tal modo si ebbe un doppione e si finì per introdurre al 22 febbraio la festa della cattedra di S. Pietro ad Antiochia, fissando al 18 gennaio quella romana. La cattedra, letteralmente, è il seggio fisso del sommo pontefice e dei vescovi. E’ posta in permanenza nella chiesa madre della diocesi (di qui il suo nome di "cattedrale") ed è il simbolo dell'autorità del vescovo e del suo magistero ordinario nella Chiesa locale. La cattedra di S. Pietro indica quindi la sua posizione preminente nel collegio apostolico, dimostrata dalla esplicita volontà di Gesù, che gli assegna il compito di "pascere" il gregge, cioè di guidare il nuovo popolo di Dio, la Chiesa.
Questa investitura da parte di Cristo, ribadita dopo la risurrezione, viene rispettata. Vediamo infatti Pietro svolgere, dopo l'ascensione, il ruolo di guida. Presiede alla elezione di Mattia e parla a nome di tutti sia alla folla accorsa ad ascoltarlo davanti al cenacolo, nel giorno della Pentecoste, sia più tardi davanti al Sinedrio. Lo stesso Erode Agrippa sa di infliggere un colpo mortale alla Chiesa nascente con l'eliminazione del suo capo, S. Pietro. Mentre la presenza di Pietro ad Antiochia risulta in maniera incontestabile dagli scritti neotestamentari, la sua venuta a Roma nei primi anni dell'impero di Claudio non ha prove altrettanto evidenti.
Lo sviluppo del cristianesimo nella capitale dell'impero attestato dalla lettera paolina ai Romani (scritta verso il 57) non si spiega tuttavia senza la presenza di un missionario di primo piano. La venuta, qualunque sia la data in cui ciò accadde, e la morte di S. Pietro a Roma, sono suffragare da tradizioni antichissime, accolte ora universalmente da studiosi anche non cattolici. Lo attestano in maniera storicamente inoppugnabile anche gli scavi intrapresi nel 1939 per ordine di Pio XII nelle Grotte Vaticane, sotto la Basilica di S. Pietro, e i cui risultati sono accolti favorevolmente anche da studiosi non cattolici.
Autore: Piero Bargellini