Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bring LENT Home

Lenten Traditions within the Home

How can families better live the spirit of Lent in their homes?

The Catholic Church has designated the liturgical season of Lent to be a period of fasting and self-denial in imitation of Christ’s fasting for forty days and forty nights (CCC, 538-40).  Through participation in Lenten Liturgies and pious customs, families enhance their experience of the glory of Easter.

“Either we live the liturgical year with its varying seasons of joy an sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the patters of the world.”  Writes Helen McLoughlin in Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home, commenting on the challenge Catholics have to be “in the world but not of the world” throughout the year.

Because we both learn and express ourselves through our bodies, we subject ourselves to meaningful practices during Lent.  On Ash Wednesday, foreheads of the faithful are anointed with blessed ashes in the sign of the cross, while the priest pronounces the words, “Remember, man that thou art dust, and dust thou shalt return” (see Genesis 3:19).  Fridays and Ash Wednesday are obligatory days of penance.  Len is particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages, voluntary self-denial (fasting and almsgiving), and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works). 

Within the home, families try ideas that may eventually become customs.  Here are a few suggestions:

FAMILY OFFERING: Decide as a family to give something up for Lent.  This could be anything from desserts or sweets to watching television.

LENTEN CANDELABRUM (Stations of the Cross):  Twelve wooden candleholders on a three-foot board, perhaps with small pictures for each station.  After each station extinguish a candle.  After the twelfth station it is dark—the Light of the World  is gone.  Finish the last two stations with a small flashlight.

LENTEN CENTERPIECE: Six candles on a cross of wood (perhaps two pieces of the trunk of the Christmas tree to symbolize the Incarnation), four on the vertical  and two on the horizontal.  Trim with a violet ribbon and place on a violet table runner.  As with an Advent wreath, light an additional candle each week.  The candles symbolize a growing light of the coming Resurrection.

READ SCRIPTURE TOGETHER: Read especially the Gospel accounts of Christ’s Passion.  Be forewarned that the children might raise questions.

VISIT THE SICK: If you don’t have an elderly family member nearby, visit a convalescent hospital and adopt an elderly person as a grandparent.

FAMILY PRAYER TIME: If you have given up the television or computer games, why not fill that time with conversation with Our Lord and Savior?  The children develop a true friendship with Christ; the reality of His life, Passion and Death becomes more real to them.

SING TOGETHER: Bring a missalette home and sing Lenten songs together.   Sacred music before, during or after any family prayer helps us to meditate on Lent and anticipate Easter.

PALM SUNDAY: Bring palms home from Mass and place them behind a crucifix or statue or in some other prominent place.

HOLY WEEK: Rally the troops to deep clean the home. Pack up unused clothing and toys and give them to the poor and needy.  Reflect on Christ’s Passion and death.
What will work well in your family and become a Lenten tradition?  Form a lasting impression on your children and teach the fundamentals of our rich Catholic Faith.

Taken from Faith Fact at

 Prepare, Pray, Fast and Give this Lent
as you Walk through the Lenten Path Calendar.

 Print the Lent Calendar PDF and calendar marker template each onto an 8 ½” x 11” flexible magnetic sheet. Frame the Calendar without the glass and then cut the magnet markers with paper cutter or scissors. This was an easy project and a great way to help kids keep track day by day during the Lenten season.

Lent A Time to Become Closer to God

Fr. George William Rutler
February 26, 2017
by Fr. George W. Rutler

There is nothing new in being told that we are dust and shall return to dust. We hear it every year. Ezekiel pondered that when he saw a valley of dry bones. The answer came when God breathed, and the bones came alive again, “an exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10).

   One of the longest discussed, and often most harshly argued, questions for Christians has been how much divine breath, or saving grace, is needed to give eternal life when physical breathing stops. The idea that man is “totally depraved” took wide hold in the sixteenth century, but had already been engaged in the fourth century. Self-styled Reformers had lost their grasp on the original form of creation. All heresies are an exaggeration of a truth, to the exclusion of its subtleties. The Council of Trent affirmed the truth that man cannot be in harmony with God’s plan, or “justified,” by his own good behavior without the breath, or “grace,” of God which comes through Jesus Christ. This is why Christ said that no one is good except God (Mark 10:18). But Trent also rejected the lie that “since Adam’s sin, the free will of man is lost and extinguished.”

   Dry bones and limp lives can come alive by giving God permission (as St. Teresa of Calcutta often said) to make us what he wants us to be. While no one is good except God, each of us can become perfect (Matthew 5:48). This is not a contradiction. Goodness is a quality of being; perfection is the result of contact with that goodness. Perfectionism is a neurosis based on the confusion of goodness and perfection. The secular progressivist dreams of building an ideal society on earth through human effort, and learns the hard way that utopias end up being hells.

   Antoine de Saint Exupéry said that perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away. Perfectionism tries to add, as though goodness were a sum, while perfection subtracts that which obscures goodness. Michelangelo said that he sculpted Moses simply by chipping away from the marble all that was not Moses, as Moses had been there all along.

Coptic Christians Martyred February 2015

 Exactly two years ago this month, (Feb 2017) twenty young Coptic Christian Egyptians were kidnapped by Islamic State militants while on a work crew in Libya. They refused to renounce Christ and chanted in chorus. . .

“Ya Rabbi Yassou!”—
“Oh my Lord Jesus!” 

A black youth from Chad, Mathew Ayairga, not a Christian, was watching and, when asked by the captors, “Do you reject Christ?” he replied, “Their God is my God.” He was baptized by blood when all twenty-one were beheaded. While these martyrs had never heard of the theological disputes over grace and justification, they were confident that Christ can raise life eternal from dust and ash. 

The purpose of Lenten disciplines,
not salvific in themselves, 
is to train voices to join their chorus of faith. 

Ash Wednesday - Self Denial

Distributing Ashes on Ash Wednesday
Give It Up
by Russell Shaw
The Catholic Thing


With Ash Wednesday fast approaching, Catholics of a certain vintage and temperament are likely to be asking themselves a familiar question: What should I give up for Lent? In these supposedly enlightened times, however, others are skeptical of the whole idea of   “giving up.” Keep Lent, they say, by doing something positive.

To do something positive for Lent is certainly a good idea. But so is giving something up. In one of his Anglican Sermons, Cardinal Newman makes the case for the latter clearly and forcefully. It goes like this: “Self-denial of some kind or other is involved, as is evident, in the very notion of renewal and holy obedience. To change our hearts is to learn to love things which we do not naturally love – to unlearn the love of this world; but this involves, of course, a thwarting of our natural wishes and tastes.”
The great thinker continues:

To be righteous and obedient implies self-command; but to possess power, we must have gained it; nor can we gain it without vigorous struggle, a persevering warfare against ourselves. The very notion of being religious implies self-denial, because by nature we do not love religion.'

And Lent? “The season of the year set apart for fasting and humiliation.”

Given the prevailing disdain for things like fasting and humiliation, this requires some unpacking.

It should be obvious that no one can give up what he doesn’t possess, or at least wants to possess, nor can anyone practice ascetically meaningful self-denial in regard to something he doesn’t value. There would be no point, for instance, in my saying I intend to give up flying an airplane, because I don’t fly airplanes and have no interest in doing so. But I do know a man for whom flying has been an important part of his life for many years, so that giving up flying would be a real sacrifice – for him.

As for me, I gave up smoking a long time ago, and giving it up was a sacrifice for me because I’d enjoyed smoking up to then. But here the question of motivation enters in: why you deny yourself something is very important in the ascetical context.

I quit smoking because I heeded the Surgeon General’s warning and wanted to preserve my health. But even though quitting for the sake of your health is a good thing to do, in and of itself it doesn’t have much connection with the interior life and one’s relationship with God (that’s clear from the fact that atheists can quit smoking for the very same reason). Moreover, to the extent someone might stop smoking in order to feel good about himself (“See what a terrific guy I am because I quit smoking”), the motive isn’t good at all.

So, you ask, what is? That’s easy. To the extent self-denial truly is denial of self, the ascetical objective is to grow in self-possession in order to be able more perfectly to give oneself to God. And if this clashes with deterministic assumptions about human behavior, be glad it does. The ascetical struggle cheerfully operates on the assumption that freedom lost can be freedom regained by a combination of self-discipline and grace.

It is important not to think the struggle takes place only in rarefied realms accessible to none but a select few. For many people, it happens in everyday life. This is central to the spirituality of the “little way” that Saint Thérèse of Lisieux lays out in her autobiography, with an example drawn from her own experience.

Living in the same convent with her was an elderly, sick nun named Sister Saint Peter. It had become necessary that someone help her to the refectory for dinner every evening. Thérèse writes that she “didn’t want to volunteer for this task,” but, seeing it as a great opportunity for spiritual progress, she bit the bullet.

“Every evening, as soon as I saw her start shaking her hourglass [during community prayer], I knew it meant: ‘Let’s start.’ . . .Before we set out, her stool had to be picked up and carried in a particular way. Above all, there had to be no sign of haste: I had to follow her, supporting her. . . .If, however, she unfortunately stumbled, she instantly thought I was not holding on to her properly and that she was going to fall: ‘Oh, good heavens! You are walking too fast. I shall tumble down.’ Then, if I tried to lead her more slowly, I would hear: ‘Keep close to me. I can’t feel your hand. You’ve let me go. I’m going to fall! I knew very well you were far too young to look after me.’”

And so on until they reached the refectory, where new complaints set in.

Thérèse persevered. One day she noticed that the old nun had trouble cutting her bread. After that, she writes, “I used not to leave her without doing it for her.” And so: “She was very touched by this, as she had never asked me to do it. I won her complete trust through this and especially – as I discovered much later – because at the end of all my little duties I gave her what she called ‘my nicest smile.’”

Life in a Carmelite convent in France in the late nineteenth century was quite different from life in today’s world. But where self-denial and self-giving are concerned, it’s much the same. Self-denial, Saint Josemaría once said, is made up of “small conquests, such as smiling at those who annoy us, denying the body some superfluous fancy, getting accustomed to listening to others, making full use of the time God allots us.” Home, workplace, and classroom regularly afford opportunities for doing such things.

All of which points to the conclusion that giving up something with the right intention is itself “doing something positive.” 

Happy Lent!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Preparation for Death - St. Alphonsus Liguori

Death will Come to us all -- how will you greet it?

Preparation for Death or, Considerations on 
the Eternal Truths,
Useful to all as MediTations, 

Serviceable to Priests for Sermons

By St. Alphonsus Liguori

I am currently reading this book and it's content makes you realize the seriousness of our death and eternity... as we all shall die... and we are not certain as to when this will happen -- BUT IT WILL.  It may be this hour, this day, or 30 years from now, but WE WILL ALL EXPERIENCE IT.  The four Truths are Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell... It's up to us to decide where we want to land up... Heaven or Hell... FOREVER.

I have copied this meditation to share with you and advise you to read the whole book yourself..  See where you are in your life with Christ... it is eye opening. As Lent will shortly be upon us... it's a good book to contemplate and reform our lives....


The Death of a Sinner

“When distress cometh upon them, they will seek for peace, and there shall be none.  Trouble shall come  upon trouble.” – Ezekiel 7:25

Death of a Sinner


The sinner will 
Seek God at Death, 
but He will not 
find Him

At present sinners banish the remembrance and though of death; and thus they seek after peace, though they never find it, in the sinful life which they lead.  But when they are found in the straits of death, on the point of entering into eternity, they shall seek peace, there shall be none.  

Then they will not be able to fly from the torture of their sinful conscience.  They will seek peace; but what peace can be found by a soul loaded with sins that sting it like so my vipers?  

What peace can the sinner enjoy when he sees that he must in a few moments appear before the judgment-seat of Jesus Christ, whose law and friendship he has till then despised?  

Trouble shall come upon trouble.  The news of death, which has been already announced, the thought of being obliged to take leave of everything in this worlds, the remorse of conscience, the time lost, the want of time at present, the rigor of the divine judgments, the unhappy eternity which awaits sinners all these things will form a horrible tempest, which will confuse the mind, will increase his apprehensions; and thus, full of confusion and distrust, the dying sinner will pass to the other world.  

Trusting in the divine promise, Abraham with great merit, hoped in God, against human hope. (Romans 4:18) 

But sinners, with great demerit, 
hope falsely and to their own perdition, 
not only against hope but also against faith; 
because they despise the menace of God 
against all who are obstinate in sin.  

They are afraid of a bad death, 

but they fear not to lead a wicked life.  

But who has assured them that they will not suddenly be deprived of life by a thunderbolt, by apoplexy, or by the bursting of a blood vessel?  And were they at death even allowed time for repentance, who assures them that they will be sincerely return to God?  

To conquer bad habits, St. Augustine had to fight against them for twelve years.  How will the dying man, who has always lived in sin, be able, in the midst of the pains, the stupefaction, and the confusion of death, to repent sincerely of all his past iniquities?  

Death is Near Your Sins are Before You!

I say sincerely, 
because it is not enough to say 
and to promise 
with the tongue: 
it is necessary to promise 
with the heart!  

O God! What terror and confusion will seize the unhappy Christian who has led a careless life, when he finds himself overwhelmed with sins, with the fears of judgment, of hell and of eternity!  

Oh! What confusion will these thoughts produce when the dying sinner will find his reason gone, his mind darkened, and his whole frame assailed by the pains of approaching death.  He will make his confession; he will promise, weep, and seek mercy from God, but without understanding what he does; and in this tempest of agitation, of remorse, of pains and terrors, he will pass to the other life.  

The people shall be troubled, and they shall pass (Job 34:20) A certain author says that the prayers, the wailings, and promises of dying sinners are like the tears and promises of a man assailed by an enemy who points a dagger to his throat to take away his life.  Miserable the man who takes to his bed at enmity with God, and passes from the bed of sickness to eternity.

Affections and Prayers
Christ Crucified

O wounds of Jesus! You are my hope.  I should despair of the pardon of my sins, and of my eternal salvation, did I not behold you, the fountains of mercy and grace, through which a God has shed all his blood, to wash my soul from the sins which I have committed.  

I adore you, then, O holy wounds! And trust in You.  I detest a thousand times, and curse those vile pleasures by which have displeased my Redeemer, and have miserably lost His friendship.  

Looking then at Thee, I raise up my hopes, and turn my affections to Thee.  My dear Jesus, Thou deservest to be loved by all men, and to be loved with their whole heart.  I have so grievously offended Thee, I have despised Thy love; but, notwithstanding my sinfulness, Thou hast bourne with me so long, and invited me to pardon with so much mercy.  

Ah, my Saviour, do not permit me evermore to offend Thee, and to merit my own damnation. 

Sorrowful Mother of God

O, God! What torture should I feel in hell at the sight of Thy blood and of the great mercies Thou has shown me.  

I love Thee, and will always love Thee.  Give me holy perseverance.  Detach my heart from all love which is not for Thee and confirm in me a true desire, a true resolution henceforth, to love only Thee, my sovereign good.  

O Mary, my Mother! Draw me to God, and obtain for me the grace to belong entirely to him before I die.

More insight see this homily Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost by Fr. Francis Xavier Weninger, 1877

Thursday, 23 February 2017

St. Peter, the Rock given Authority

St. Peter receiving the Keys to the Kingdom of God

From a sermon by Saint Leo the Great, pope

The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter’s Faith

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the calling of all nations, and to be set over the apostles and all the fathers of the Church.  Though there are in God’s people many bishops and many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler.  Beloved, how great and wonderful is the sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man.  Whatever Christ has willed to be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

The Lord now asks the apostles as a whole what men think of him.  As long as they are recounting the uncertainty born of human ignorance, their reply is always the same.
But when he presses the disciples to say what they think themselves, the first to confess his faith in the Lord is the one who is first in rank among the apostles.

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood
 has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Peter says: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus replies: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. You are blessed, He means, because My Father has taught you.  You have not been deceived by earthly opinion, but have been enlightened by inspiration from heaven.

He continues: And I say to you. In other words, as my Father has revealed to you my godhead, so I in my turn make known to you your pre-eminence.  You are Peter: though I am the inviolable rock, the cornerstone that makes both one, the foundation apart from which no one can lay any other, yet you also are a rock, for you are given solidity by my strength, so that which is my very own because of my power is common between us through your participation.

And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  On this strong foundation, he says I will build an everlasting temple.  The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

The gates of hell shall not silence this confession of faith; the chains of death shall not bind it.  Its’ words are the words of life.  As they lift up to heaven those who profess them, so they send down to hell those who contradict them.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.  Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven.

The authority vested in this power passed also to the other apostles, and the institution established by this decree has been continued in all the leaders of the Church.  But it is not without good reason that what is bestowed on all is entrusted to one.  For Peter received it separately in trust because he is the prototype set before all the rulers of the Church.

Chair of St. Peter Feast Day

Bronze statue of St. Peter sitting on the Chair of Peter

From the Earliest 
Days of the Church 

a Part of Church History

Chair of St. Peter, Apostle Feast Day
The annual feast of cathedra petri at Rome

From 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: 

St. Peter teaching

"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." 
St. Peter the Apostle

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
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. 

Christ said, Because you have answered thus -Thou art Peter (Cephas) the ROCK on which I will build my Church

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 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.

St. Peter Baptizing the Daughter of Centurion Cornelius
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 favor 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.

Chair of Peter (Vatican Basilica)
The Chair Itself

The 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. 

Sts Peter and Paul carrying Crown of Martyrdom, fresco of the arcosolium, Catacombs 
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
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):

Hâc cathedrâ, Petrus quâ sederat ipse, locatum
Maxima Roma Linum primum considere iussit.

(On this chair, where Peter himself had sat,
great Rome first placed Linus and bade him sit.)

St. Cyprian
Further, St. Cyprian, writing about 250, during the vacancy of the chair after the death of Pope St. Fabian, describes it as follows: "Cum locus Fabiani, id est locus Petri et gradus cathedræ sacerdotalis vacaret" (when the place of Fabian, i.e. the place of Peter and the step of the sacerdotal chair were vacant)

Still earlier, about 200, Tertullian writes, in his "De præscriptione bæreticorum": "Percurre ecclesias apostolicas, apud quas ipsæ adhuc cathedræ apostolorum suis locis præsident. Si Italiæ adjaces habes Romam" (Visit the Apostolic churches in (among) which the very chairs of the Apostles still preside in their places. If you are near Italy, there is Rome).

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. 
Chair of St. Peter

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. 

Pope St. Gregory the Great
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. 

Eusebius of Caesarea
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, 

Taken from:  New Advent