Chair of St Peter – 22 February
The Chair of Saint Peter (Latin: Cathedra Petri), also known as the Throne of Saint Peter, is a relic conserved in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the sovereign enclave of the Roman Catholic Church inside Rome, Italy. The relic is a wooden throne that tradition claims the Apostle Saint Peter, the leader of the Early Christians in Rome and first Pope, used as Bishop of Rome. The relic is enclosed in a sculpted gilt bronze casing designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and executed between 1647 and 1653. In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI described the chair as “a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors to tend Christ’s flock, keeping it united in faith and in charity.”
The wooden throne was a gift from Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald to Pope John VIII in 875. It has been studied many times over the years, the last being from 1968 to 1974, when it was last removed from the Bernini altar. That study concluded that it was not a double, but rather a single, chair with a covering and that no part of the chair dated earlier than the sixth century.
The Chair is the cathedra of St. Peter’s Basilica. Cathedra is Latin for “chair” or “throne”, and denominates the chair or seat of a bishop, hence “cathedral” denominates the Bishop’s church in an episcopal see. The Popes formerly used the Chair. It is distinct from the Papal Cathedra in St. John Lateran Archbasilica, also in Rome, which is the actual cathedral church of the Pope, because the Cathedra he currently and officially sits upon is in its apse.