Friday, August 1, 2008

Saint Peter in Chains

Filippino Lippi. Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison. c. 1480. Brancacci chapel. Florence.

St. Peter’s chains, are traditionally believed to have, arrived in Rome in 116, brought by the martyr St. Balbina and her father, St. Quirinus. San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains), a minor basilica in Rome, holds those chains from Jerusalem, and Rome’s Mamertine Prison. That church also has Michelangelo’s horned statue of Moses is also there.Saint Peter in Chains is also the cathedral in Cincinnati.
AND at the same time, Herod the king stretched forth his hands, to afflict some of the church. And he killed James, the brother of John, with the sword. And seeing that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to take up Peter also. Now it was in the days of the Azymes. And when he had apprehended him, he cast him into prison, delivering him to four files of soldiers to be kept, intending, after the pasch, to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him: and a light shined in the room: and he striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said to him: Gird thyself, and put on thy sandals. And he did so. And he said to him: Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And going out, he followed him, and he knew not that it was true which was done by the angel: but thought he saw a vision. And passing through the first and the second ward, they came to the iron gate that leadeth to the city, which of itself opened to them. And going out, they passed on through one street: and immediately the angel departed from him. — Acts of the Apostles xii. 1-10.
It is a relic, that most people would not expect. The faith of a believer is often rewarded harshly, yet he keeps the faith. The chains are less a burden than the cross.

Filippino Lippi *1459,†1504 was the son of Fra Filippo Lippi. In 1469 he was orphaned. He became apprenticed, to one of his father’s pupils, Sandro Botticelli. The young Lippi completed the commission started by Masaccio †1428, with several frescoes on the life of Saint Peter. About the pilaster of the entrance is, the above, in another fresco Peter is being visited in prison, by another saint. The angel is at centre calmly in white, at right is a sleeping jailer, and the haloed Peter in between. The man on the other side of the angel, looking at the viewer, is, sometimes, identified as having the likeness of the painter.

Also traditionally this day, or the Transfiguration, five days later, was celebrated the “blessing of new fruits”. In England, to-day was Lammas Day, loaf mass day, when the wheat harvest was celebrated. A loaf was brought to church. Rents were paid.

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