Homily by St Augustine, Bishop
The solemn feast of today was called St Peter’s Chair by our forefathers, because it is said that on this day Peter, first of the Apostles, took possession of his episcopal chair. Rightly, therefore, do the churches honour the feast of that Chair, which the Apostle accepted for the salvation of the churches, as the Lord said: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.”
Therefore, the Lord named Peter the foundation of the Church; and it is, therefore, right that the Church should honour this foundation, upon which the lofty structure of the ecclesiastical edifice is built. The Psalm which has been read, says very suitably: “Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people, and praise him in the chair of the ancients.” Blessed be God who has commanded the blessed Apostle Peter to be exalted in the Church; for it is just that we should honour in the Church this foundation, by which it rises to heaven.
In keeping today the feast of this Chair, we honour the office and the priesthood. Individual churches pay to one another this tribute of mutual respect, for the more the priestly office is honoured, the more the dignity of the Church is enhanced. Since religious observance has introduced this feast into the life of the Church, I wonder why some infidels of today are sunk so deep in error, that they place food and wine upon the tombs of the dead, as though souls which have departed from the body were in need of bodily refreshment.
– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964