Dear Brothers and Sisters
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter. It is an ancient feast, dating back to the fourth century, which gives thanks to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his successors.
The first ‘seat’ of the Church was the Cenacle where, in all probability, there was a special place reserved for Simon Peter. From there the ‘seat’ of Peter moved to Antioch where he became its first Bishop, and from there, Providence led Peter to Rome where his service to the Gospel was crowned with martyrdom.
In this way Rome came to be known as the ‘See’ of the successor of Peter and the ‘cathedra’ of its Bishop, as representing the mission entrusted to him by Christ to shepherd his entire flock. In celebrating the ‘Chair’ of Peter we thus recognize its spiritual significance: it is a special sign of the love of God - the good and eternal shepherd - who guides the whole Church along the way of salvation. In the words of Saint Jerome, "I follow no leader save Christ so I consult the chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built!"
I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at this audience. In particular, I greet the members of the Pro Oriente Syriac Commission, and also the members of the British Parliament. Today, I invite you all to visit the specially decorated monument to the ‘cathedra’ of Peter, in the Basilica. There, I ask you to pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten me and support me in my service to the Church. Thank you and may God bless you all!