Feast of the Chair of St Peter
In old days the monarch of the emperor sat on a chair when they were doing particular pieces of state business. We would call this a throne. When the church began to carry out functions and make pronouncements on certain things the bishop or pope would sit on a particular chair in order to do so. The Chair was the sign of unity.
In the fourth century when the church was beginning to understand herself as a worldwide community of believers, particularly after the Edict of Milan made the church the state religion of Rome, the church was allowed to settle and was left at peace to run its own affairs.
The first pope to insist upon and enforce the primacy of Rome as centre of unity was Leo the Great. During the council of Chalcedon in AD451 Leo wrote his famous letter on the person of Jesus, explaining the church’s teaching on who Jesus was and claiming that he had the authority to say the final word.
Peter and his successors have become the sign of unity and this is the day that the church celebrates that sign. Having just returned from Rome in these past few days I can see that the Pope really is the sign of the unity of the universal church.