The Lord said to Simon Peter: "I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”
It was with these words from the Gospel according to Luke (Luke 22,32) that the feast-day of the Chair of St Peter opened in Tiberias. On Saturday 18th February; the celebration was presided by the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton, in the presence of a Hebrew-speaking community. The liturgy in English and in Hebrew at the Franciscan shrine of Tiberias,aimed to exalt the role and the importance of the apostle Peter in the economy of the salvation. There, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, there is a statue of the apostle Peter, where he is seated on a throne, a perfect replica of the one in the St Peter’s, in the Vatican, in Rome. The most correct term to refer to the seat of St Peter is “chair” from the Greek word that indicates a particularly solemn chair and which also gives the word cathedral, the church which houses the bishop’s chair.
Returning to the verses of the gospel of the introduction, the Father Custos described the metaphorical meaning of Peter’s experience and its fundamental function linked to his ministry in his homily: "with his teaching and his service, Peter opens the door for us to our relationship with Jesus,that with Jesus is the only relationship that brings us salvation. And the apostle Peter’s service, which is the service of the Church, has the purpose of opening us up to this only relationship necessary, the relationship with Jesus." This service and this ministry, Fr. Francesco explained, has not remained only connected with Peter, but has found continuation in the Church in those who have followed him: "Today, in the Pope, it is still Peter who teaches and who shows us that the relationship with Jesus Christ is the only one that can save us.”
At the end of the celebration, the Father Custos spent some time with the faithful outside the church, sharing a moment of celebration in honour of the apostle Peter.
Filippo De Grazia