The cathedra Petri

II. The episcopal cathedra – III. The location and function of the cathedra in church buildings – IV. Examples of Christian cathedrae – V. The funerary cathedra. Throughout antiquity the term cathedra meant the sitting position; cathedra in the sense of a place to sit is found only in Hellenism and, more frequently, in the imperial era, without any particular meaning. The terms cathedra and throne and are often used as synonyms, with no difference in the meaning of the two terms. The cathedra Petri. From the 3rd c. on one notes an evolution, beginning with Cyprian of Carthage, which sees the cathedra as an expression or instance of apostolic or episcopal authority. According to Cyprian, the episcopal power episcopatus vigor and the authority of the cathedra cathedrae auctoritas authorize the bishop to take measures against those subject to the church who have behaved erroneously Ep. 3,1,1 CCL 3B, 9; see also 17,2,1 97: honor sacerdotii et cathedrae; Laps. 6: derelicta cathedra from the bishop. Cyprian also speaks explicitly of the cathedra una super Petrum Domini voce fundata 43,5,2 205. Cornelius became bishop of Rome at a time when because of Fabian’s death the locus Petri et gradus cathedrae sacerdotalis 55,8 265 was empty, and despite grave hostility he sat without fear on the sacerdotalis cathedra. The episcopal cathedra of Rome is the cathedra Petri, the ecclesia principalis, unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est 59,14,1 CCL 3C, 361; G.W. Clarke, The Letters of St. Cyprian of Carthage 3 New York 1986 257f. bibl. Cathedra Petri is also the name of a liturgical feast. It is not entirely clear under what guise Peter was proclaimed, during the feast on 22 February, natale Petri de cathedra. The date of the feast goes back to the pagan feast of the Cara cognatio, which ended with a six-day meal in commemoration of the dead, the Parentalia. For this reason it is rightly held that the feast cathedra Petri originated as a funeral banquet in memory of the apostle, which probably caused the date of his death to be forgotten. The feast is documented in the calendar of 354, and in two 5th-c. homilies ps.-Leo Gt., Or. 14 PL 54, 505-508; CPL3 1658 and ps.-Augustinus D.G. Morin, Notes d’ancienne littrature eccl.: RBen 13 1896 3436; CPL3 369, as well as in complaints at the Council of Tours of 567 about the mishaps that occurred during the celebration of the feast can. 23 CCL 148A, 191, 45867; see also P.-A. Fvrier, Natale Petri de cathedra: CRAI 1977 514-531; H. Merkel, Feste u. Feiertage. IV: TRE 11 1983 117. In the 6th c., the Martyrologium Hieronymianum distinguishes between the feast of 18 January, when Peter’s taking possession of the cathedra of Rome is celebrated, and the feast of 22 February, which refers to his cathedra at Antioch l.c. 162 with reference to Gal 2:11. The liturgical texts attribute a different character to the feast according to region: esp. in Gaul there was the idea of a primacy of Peter in the sense of a preeminent position in the whole church; there was also a celebration of Peter’s episcopate, limited to Rome Klauser, Cathedra 165-172. Perpetuus of Tours calls the feast Cathedra Petri: natale sancti Petri episcopatus, which may mean day of the remembrance of the episcopate of St. Peter Greg. Tours, Hist. Franc. 10,31,6 MG Script. rer. Mer. 1,1,530. A less convincing opinion comes from Gussone 114, who refers to the hypothesis of D. Balboni Natale Petri de cathedra: EphLit 68 1954 97- 127, already refuted by Klauser, Cathedra 205-206: the feast commemorated Peter’s ascent to the throne. For other hypotheses on the origin and meaning of the feast, see Gussone 113.

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