Monday, January 15, 2018

Feast of the Precious Chains of Peter

This has always been an interesting feast for me. It has an interesting history and the Church has developed some very rich imagery in the hymnody for the feast. Festal celebrations often began locally and then expanded either through constant expansion or through conciliar decree. This process continues today as you will see the occasional post here when a Church joins in the glorification of a local saint from another patriarchate.

Bound to the Lord * and imprisoned in a dungeon, * thou didst bind falsehood, O apostle. * Wherefore, we honor thee lovingly, * and with faith we kiss thy chains, * whence drawing forth health of body * and salvation of soul, * we praise thee as is meet, O thou who hast beheld God, * converser with the incorporeal ones.

O most blessed Peter, chief among the apostles, loose me, who am bound by the chains of the passions, wretch that I am, as once the angel of God loosed thy chains, leading thee forth most gloriously from the dungeon wherein thou wast imprisoned, O blessed one.
The feast was originally kept in Rome, Italy to commemorate the dedication of the Church of Saint Peter on the Esquiline Hill built by Eudoxia Licinia in 442 and rebuilt by Adrian I in the 8th century. When the chains which Saint Peter had worn in prison and from which he was freed by angelic intervention, Acts 12:1-19, were later venerated there, the feast received its present name. The date when these chains were brought from Jerusalem is disputed; some claim they were brought in 116 by travellers sent in search of them by Saint Balbina and her father Saint Quirinus, while others think Saint Eudoxia brought them in 439. Pope Saint Leo the Great united them to the chains with which Saint Peter had been fettered in the Mamertine Prison, forming a chain about two yards long which is preserved in a bronze safe.

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