That Saint Peter, before he went to Rome, founded the see of Antioch is attested by many Saints of the earliest times, including St. Ignatius of Antioch and Pope St. Clement I. It was just that the Prince of the Apostles should take under his particular care and surveillance this city, which was then the capital of the East, and where the faith so early took such deep roots as to give birth there to the name of Christians. There his voice could be heard by representatives of the three largest nations of antiquity — the Hebrews, the Greeks and the Latins. St. John Chrysostom says that St. Peter was there for a long period; Pope St. Gregory the Great claims that though he was seven years Bishop of Antioch. He did not reside there at all times, but governed its apostolic activity with the wisdom his mandate assured.
If as tradition affirms, he was twenty-five years in Rome, the date of his establishment at Antioch must be within three years after Our Lord’s Ascension, for he would have gone to Rome in the second year of Claudius. He no doubt left Jerusalem when the persecution which followed St. Steven’s martyrdom broke out (Acts 8:1), and remained in Antioch until he escaped miraculously from prison and from the hands of Herod Agrippa, while in Jerusalem in 43 at the time of the Passover. (Acts 12) Knowing he would be pursued to Antioch, his well-known center of activity, he went to Rome.
In the first ages it was customary, especially in the East, for every Christian to observe the anniversary of his Baptism. On that day each one renewed his baptismal vows and gave thanks to God for his Heavenly adoption. That memorable day they regarded as their spiritual birthday. The bishops similarly kept the anniversary of their consecration, as appears from four sermons of Pope St. Leo the Great on the anniversary of his accession to the pontifical dignity. These commemorations were frequently continued by the people after their bishops’ decease, out of respect for their memory. The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter was instituted from very early times. St. Leo says we should celebrate the Chair of St. Peter with no less joy than the day of his martyrdom, for as in the latter he was exalted to a throne of glory in Heaven, by the former he was installed Head of the Church on earth.
As this feast most often falls in Lent, certain churches celebrated this feast at an earlier date, in January. Hence the two feasts of the Chair of St. Peter, which the Church distinguished by connecting the more ancient one on February 22, with the Chair at Antioch and that on January 18 with the Chair of Rome. St. Peter resided indeed for some time at Antioch about the years 51-52.
It is to St. Peter, who proclaimed that Jesus was “the Christ, Son of the living God” (Gospel) when all Palestine rejected Him, that the Master commits the power to bind Satan by closing the gates of hell to open for us the gates of Heaven (Gospel). And the Head of the Church teaches us in his first Epistle that it is “by faith in the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ that the Holy Ghost sanctifies us and reconciles us to the Father.”
The commemoration of Saint Paul immediately follows the Collect, Secret and Postcommunion of the feast, for the liturgy does not separate those who have so justly been called the two pillars of the Church.
INTROIT Sir 45:30
The Lord made to him a covenant of peace, and made him a prince; that the dignity of priest-hood should be to him for ever. (Ps. 131: 1) O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness. v. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Repeat The Lord made to him…
O God, Who, committing to blessed Peter, Thine apostle, the keys of the heavenly kingdom, didst bestow on him the pontifical function of binding and loosing, grant that, by the help of his intercession, we may be delivered from the bonds of our sins. Who livest and reignest with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
Commemoration of St. Paul
O God, Who by the preaching of the blessed apostle Paul didst teach the multitude of the gentiles, grant us, we pray Thee, that, honoring his commemoration, we may experience the benefit of his patronal influence with Thee. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
EPISTLE 1 Peter 1: 1-7
Lesson from the Epistle of blessed Peter the Apostle. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers dispersed through Pontus, Galatía, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, unto the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; grace unto you and peace be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who according to His great mercy hath regenerated us unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that can not fade, reserved in heaven for you, who by the power of God are kept by faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations: that the trial of your faith, much more precious than gold (which is tried by the fire), may be found unto praise, and glory, and honor, at the appearing of Jesus Christ our Lord.
GRADUAL Psalm 106: 32, 31
Let them exalt him in the church of the people; and praise him in the chair of the ancients. V. Let the mercies of the Lord give glory to him; and his wonderful works to the children of men.
TRACT Psalm 111: 6-7
Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he delights exceedingly in His commandments. V. His seed shall be mighty upon the earth: the generation of the righteous shall be blessed. V. Glory and wealth shall be in his house: and his justice remaineth for ever and ever.
GOSPEL Matthew 16: 13-19
At that time, Jesus came into the quarters of Cæsarea Philippi, and He asked His disciples, Saying, “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” But they said, Some, John the Baptist, and other some, Elias, and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them, “But whom do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him, “Blessed art thou, Simon BarJona, because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father Who is in Heaven: and I say to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in Heaven.”
OFFERTORY ANTIPHON Matthew 16: 18-19
Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.
We beseech You, O Lord, may the prayer of the blessed Apostle, Peter, recommend the petitions and offerings of Your Church, so that what we celebrate in his honor may obtain forgiveness for us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
For ST. PAUL
O Lord, make holy the offerings of Your people, through the prayer of Paul, Your Apostle, that those things which You have established as pleasing to You may be even more pleasing through his patronal intercession. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
PREFACE of the Apostles
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation, to entreat Thee humbly, O Lord, that Thou wouldst not desert Thy flock, O everlasting Shepherd; but, through Thy blessed apostles, wouldst keep it under Thy constant protection; that it may be governed by those same rulers, whom as vicars of Thy work, Thou didst set over it to be its pastors. And therefore with Angels and Archangels, with Thrones and Dóminations and with all the hosts of the heavenly army, we sing the hymn of Thy glory, evermore saying:
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY…
COMMUNION ANTIPHON Matthew 16: 18
Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.
O Lord, may the gift we offer bring us joy, that as we praise Your wondrous work in Your Apostle Peter, so through him may we share Your generous forgiveness. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.
Pro S. Paulo
Made holy by the sacrament of salvation, we beseech You, O Lord, that the prayers of him under whose patronal care You have granted us to be ruled may never fail us. Through Jesus Christ, thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. R. Amen.