Chair of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica

I hope you liked my blog about the Baldachin inside the St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome.

In this blog I will feature a chair that was venerated and traditionally held to be the chair on which Peter sat as he instructed the faithful of Rome. It’s easy to miss. So much to see inside the basilica.

What some tourists don’t know is that you can walk past this massive structure, the Baldachin which will lead you to an altar, the Altar of the Chair of Peter. Above it is a masterpiece by the work of Bernini. The centerpiece is a chair called the Chair of St. Peter also known as The Throne of St. Peter in a background of glorious gold. There is no information about this piece. No brochures available to give tourists an idea of the significance of the chair. So, I did some research.

The chair is a relic, a chair made of acacia wood damaged by cuts and worms encased in oak. To give prominence to this ancient wooden chair, Bernini built a throne in gilded bronze, richly ornamented with bas-reliefs (raised carvings in sculptures) in which the chair was enclosed. On January 17, 1666 it was solemnly set above the altar.

Four gigantic statues (about 5 m. tall) in gilded bronze surround the Chair called the Doctors of the Church. The two outer statues are figures of two Doctors of the Latin Church: St. Ambrose and St. Augustine; the two inner statues, are of two Doctors of the Greek Church: St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom. These saints represent the catholicity of the Church and at the same time, the consistency of the theologians’ teaching with the doctrine of the Apostles. A brilliant dove stands out against a brilliant Bohemian glass, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

The chair of Peter symbolizes the perpetual continuity of the Catholic doctrine and its promise of infallibility, victorious over all heresies throughout the centuries.

Now, I know.

Photo: Franciscan Media (My photo was not up to scale).

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