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Did Jesus appoint St. Peter as pope on February 22?


Pietro Perugino | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 02/21/24

February 22 is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and according to some traditions marks the day when Jesus appointed St. Peter as the head of the apostles

One of the most peculiar feasts during the liturgical year is the feast of the “Chair of St. Peter.” It might seems strange to celebrate a chair!

However, this feast has more to do with the office of St. Peter, than the physical chair that he sat on during his life on earth.

In fact, according to some traditions, February 22 was the anniversary of when Jesus appointed St. Peter as the head of the apostles.

The Catholic Encyclopedia explains, “The importance of this feast was heightened by the fact that February 22 was considered the anniversary of the day when Peter bore witness, by the Sea of Tiberias, to the Divinity of Christ and was again appointed by Christ to be the Rock of His Church.

Furthermore, “According to very ancient Western liturgies, February 22 was the day…(on which Peter was first chosen pope). The Mass of this feast calls it at the beginning…this day is called especially praiseworthy because on it the blessed Bar-Jona, by reason of his devout faith, was raised to pre-eminence by the words of the Redeemer, and through this rock of Peter was established the foundation of the Church.”

Did Jesus appoint St. Peter his “rock” on February 22?

As with all dates that refer to anniversaries during the life of Jesus, it is nearly impossible to verify if February 22 was in fact the day that Jesus chose St. Peter as the first “pope.”

Regardless of whether or not it occurred on this exact day, early Christians appointed this day in the liturgical calendar to recall this major event in the life of the Church.

While it may not have happened on February 22, we can still celebrate it with great solemnity and recall Jesus’ words to St. Peter:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and uponthisrock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:18

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