Chair of St Peter; homily by St Leo, Pope
The Lord asked the apostles, what men thought of him; and as long as they were expressing the obscure opinions of men, there was one common reply from all. But when he asked what they themselves thought, he who was first in apostolic dignity was the first to confess the Lord. And when he had said: “You are the Christ the Son of the living God,” Jesus answered him: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.” That is: “You are, therefore, blessed, because my Father has taught you; earthly opinion has not deceived you, but heavenly inspiration has instructed you; and not flesh and blood, but he, whose only-begotten Son I am, has revealed me to you.”
“And I say to you,” he says: that is, “As my Father has manifested to you my divinity, so I make known to you your excellence.
“You are Peter“, that is, “As I am the invulnerable rock, the cornerstone, who make both one, I the foundation beside which there can be laid no other, so you too are a rock, in my strength made hard, and I share with you the powers which are proper to me.”
“And upon this rock it”will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it“: “Upon this strength,” he says, “I will construct an eternal temple; and my Church which is to rise to the height of heaven, shall be founded upon the firmness of this faith.”
Against this confession the gates of hell shall never prevail, and the chains of death shall not take hold upon it, for these words are the words of life. Those who confess him, he raises to heaven; those who deny him, he buries in hell. And so he says to the most blessed Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever you shall bind on earth, it shall be bheaven.n heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This power indeed, has also passed to the other apostles, and the essence of this decree has come down to all the rulers of the Church; but it is not in vain that what is meant for all should be committed to one only. For it is entrusted especially to Peter, because Peter is set before all the rulers of the Church as an example.
Therefore, Peter’s privilege remains, wheresoever judgment is given according to his justice. Nor is there too great a degree of severity or indulgence, when nothing will be bound or loosed, except what Peter will bind or loose.
– From: An Approved English Translation of the Breviarium Romanum, Burns & Oates, London, 1964