This feast is found in one of the oldest Roman calendars going back to the year 311. At one point there were two feasts of the Chair of Peter, one on January 18, the day on which the Apostle was said to have held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City. The feast of February 22 seems to have been the more important celebration for it was said to mark the anniversary of the day when Peter bore witness, by the Sea of Tiberias, to the Divinity of Christ and was appointed by Christ to be the Rock of His Church. According to very ancient Western liturgies, February 22 was the day "on which Peter was first chosen Pope." The Preface for today's Mass says,

"Almighty and everlasting God, . . . You established the Church on the foundation of the apostles. From among them You chose Peter, who was the first to recognize the divinity of Christ, and You made him the solid rock on which Your Church would be built."

The Chair or Cathedra of Peter, which has been ensconced since 1666 above an altar in the apse of the Vatican Basilica according to the design of Bernini, had been believed to contain parts of the original chair used by the first Pope. However, during its restoration in the 1970's the chair, dating back only to the 6th century, was discovered to be the throne that Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne, gave to Pope John VIII when the Pontiff crowned him as emperor in 875.

From the earliest centuries of the Church, the Chair of Peter has been venerated as a sign of the seat of prime authority bestowed on Peter and his successors by Christ. "The Lord made Simon alone, whom He named Peter, the 'rock' of His Church. He gave him the keys of His Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock."

A compilation from De Waal, "Chair of Peter," Catholic Encyclopedia, 1908; Butler, The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, & Other Principal Saints; and a report from the Vatican, Feb. 22, 2001.