I hope you don’t mind a little extra reading, but I would like to share this personal reflection with you about this Feast Day:
I will never forget the first time I entered St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. I said nothing – I couldn’t – because my jaw dropped and it took a while for me to be able to close it. I was in awe. It was the first time I had traveled to Rome, and lucky for me, I have been able to return several times. Where do you begin to take in the beauty? The beautiful cherubs at the holy water font? Michelangelo’s Pieta, now protected by glass after being vandalized in 1972? The bronze statue of St. Peter? Bernini’s magnificent baldachin over the Papal Altar? It was hard to not fall over with my eyes darting from left to right and ceiling to floor so fast as not to miss a thing. You cannot miss the Chair of St. Peter, however, as it sits in the apse of the Basilica. It becomes clearly visible as you approach the high altar, sitting directly behind it in all its glory with the Holy Spirit alabaster window just above it.
I have visited the Chair during each of my visits to the Eternal City, but will always remember two special occasions, both of which occurred when we attended the Consistory in 2012, when our then Pro Grand Master Archbishop of Baltimore Edwin F. O’Brien, and also then Archbishop of New York, Timothy J. Dolan, were created Cardinals.
The first time was when we were invited to join a few of the New York EOHSJ members who had also traveled to Rome, at a Mass that was celebrated at the altar at the Chair of St. Peter by His Em. Edward M. Egan.
The second, was the day after the Consistory when we attended the Mass of Thanksgiving for the newly appointed cardinals, celebrated at the Papal Altar by Pope Benedict, on Sunday, February 19. It was then that I noticed the Chair behind the High Altar looked different. There it was – The Chair of St. Peter – it its usual state of grandeur, but this time it was adorned with candles, which I later learned occurs each year on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter when 110 candles illuminate this ornate chair by Bernini!
As I leave you with the attached story of the Feast Day, along with my photograph of the candle lit Chair, might I suggest that today we ask for St. Peter’s intercession for our Holy Father Pope Francis who now sits in the chair—the office—of the bishop of Rome, that he may be blessed in his leadership, service and teaching in the Church.