Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Station at St Peter's Chains

Monday of the First Week in Lent - yesterday.

Station at St. Peter’s Chains

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Church of St Peter's Chains, Rome.(ack. Lalupa, Wikimedia Commons)
The Station is in one of the most ancient Roman basilicas built by the Empress Eudocia, where the chains worn by the prince of the Apostles, to whom Jesus confided His flock, are kept.  In the fifth century it was one of the twenty-five parishes of Rome.
The Epistle of the day alludes to the penitents about to be reconciled at Easter, and to the catechumens preparing for baptism, and explains that the Lord is the Shepherd who comes to seek His lost sheep.  The Gospel tells of the separation that the Shepherd will make for ever between the sheep and the goats, or between the good who repent and give themselves up to works of charity, and the sinners.
            Let us ask God to prepare us by “this Lenten fast” to be loosened from the bonds of our sins by virtue of the power of Peter, who was delivered from his chains.

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The Chains of St Peter in the 'Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli' in Rome. (ack. Patnaik and Domato - Wikipedia Commons)

The Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III), who received them as a gift from her mother, Aelia Eudocio, consort of Valentinian II, presented the Chains to Pope Leo I.  Aelia Eudocia had received these Chains as a gift from Iuvenalis, Bishop of Jerusalem.
          According to legend, while Pope Leo was comparing them to the Chains of St Peter's final imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome, the two Chains miraculously fused together.  The Chains are kept in a Reliquary under the High Altar in the Basilica.

Epistle:  Ezechiel  xxxiv.  11-16

Lesson from the Prophet Ezechial.

'Thus saith the Lord God:  Behold I Myself will seek My sheep and will visit them.  As the shepherd visiteth his flock in the day when he shall be in the midst of his sheep that were scattered: so will I visit My sheep, and will deliver them out of all the places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.  And I will bring them out from the peoples and will gather them out of the countries and will bring them to their own land:  and I will feed them in the mountains of Israel, by the rivers and in all the habitations of the land.  I will feed them in the most fruitful pastures and their pastures shall be in the high mountains of Israel:  there shall they rest on the green grass and be fed in fat pastures upon the mountains of Israel.  I will feed My sheep and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and that which was driven away I will bring again;  and I will bind up that which was broken;  and I will strengthen that which was weak;  and that which was fat and strong I will preserve:  and I will feed them in judgment, saith the Lord almighty.'

                                 'Christ, the Good Shepherd' (20th c. German)

Gospel:   Mathew xxv.  31-46

“In the flames of hell,” says St Augustine, “the combustion will be eternal as is the fire itself, and truth assures us, that this combustion will be the portion of those that are found lacking, not in faith, but in good works”

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St Mathew:-    
'At that time Jesus said to His disciples:  When the Son of Man shall come in His majesty,  and all the Angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the seat of His majesty:  and all nations shall be gathered together before Him, and He shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats:  and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on His left.  Then shall the King say to them that shall be on His right hand:  

"Come, ye blessed of  My Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me to eat:  I was thirsty, and you gave Me to drink:  I was a stranger, and you took Me in:  naked, and you covered Me: sick, and you visited Me:  I was in prison, and you came to Me." 

Then shall the just answer Him, saying:  Lord, when did we see Thee hungry, and fed Thee:  thirsty, and gave Thee drink?  And when did we see Thee a stranger, and took Thee in:  or naked, and covered Thee?  Or when did we see Thee sick or in prison, and came to Thee?  And the King answering, shall say to them:  Amen I say to you:  as long as you did it to one of these My least brethren, you did it to Me.  Then He shall say to them also that shall be on His left hand:  

"Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels.   For I was hungry and you gave Me not to eat:  I was thirsty, and you gave Me not to drink:  I was a stranger and you took Me not in:  naked and you covered Me not:  sick and in prison, and you did not visit Me."  

Then they also shall answer Him, saying:  Lord when did we see Thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to Thee?  Then He shall answer them, saying:  Amen I say to you:  as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to Me.  And these shall go into everlasting punishment:  but the just into life everlasting.'

  'Last Judgment' (part) - tapestry (1505) - Worcester Art Museum
- see website for full extraordinary work.

N.B. With acknowledgement and thanks to 'zephyrinus' blog site - for photographs and information re. Basilica.