Archive for the 'The Golden Legend' Category

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

February 22, 2010

The Petrine feast days are as close as I get to patronal festivals (on the understanding that Peter = Rock = Crag = Craig).  Today is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which chair, for the especially literal-minded, is shown below.  In The Golden Legend Jacobus de Voragine very kindly enumerates four reasons for the institution of this feast.  In past years I have transcribed the first two of these reasons (one and two), and this year I give the third.

The feast of the Chair of Saint Peter used to be called the feast of Saint Peter’s Banquet, and this brings us to the third reason for its institution.  It was an ancient custom of the pagans (as Master John Beleth tells us) to offer a banquet on the tombs of their ancestors every year on a certain day in the month of February.  Then, during the night, demons consumed the food, but the pagans thought it was the souls of the dead, which they called shades, that wandered among the tombs and did away with the viands.  According to the same author the ancients said that when the souls are in the human body, they are called souls, when they are in the underworld, they are manes, ghosts, when they ascend to heaven, they are called spirits, and, when they are recently buried or wander around the tombs, shades.  The holy fathers of the Church wanted to eradicate this custom of the banquets but saw that it would be difficult to do so, and in its stead instituted the feast of the Chair or Enthronement of Saint Peter.  This combined the Roman and the Antiochene feasts on the same day when the old banquets were held, and so there are some even now who call this feast the Feast of Saint Peter’s Banquet.

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

Feast of St. Nicholas

December 6, 2008

Sainte Nicholaes, Godes druth,
tymbre us faiere scoone hus.
At thi birth, at thi bare,
Sainte Nicholaes, bring us wel thare.

— St. Godric (c.1170) —

In a tyme it befelle that all the province of Seint Nicholas suffered gret peyne for hunger, for mete failed almost to all the peple.  And thanne the servaunt of God herde saye that there were schippes charged with whete and were ariued atte the port.  And thanne anone he went thedir and preied the schipmen that thei wold helpe the peple that pershid for hunger of eueri schip an C buschels of whete.  And thanne thei saiden: “Holy fader, we dur not, for it is deliuered to vs by mesure, and we most yelde the same mesure into the emperours garners in Alisaundre.”  And thanne the holi man saide to hem: “Dothe as I haue preied you, and I behete you that it schall not be lessid whanne ye come to the garners.”  And whanne thei hadd deliuered hym, thei come into Alisaundre and deliuered the fulle mesure that thei hadd resseived.  And thanne this holi man departed this whete to eueri man after his nede, so that it suffised two yeres not only for to liue but for to sowe.

– Jacobus de Voragine, The Gilte Legende
(translation c.1440)

Miracle of St.Nicholas - Ambrogio Lorenzetti (c.1330)

Miracle of St.Nicholas - Ambrogio Lorenzetti (c.1330)

Last year: Consecration of St. Nicholas

Te Augustinum laudamus

August 28, 2008

Thus Augustine, that shining light of wisdom, that bulwark of the truth and rampart of the faith, incomparably surpassed all the doctors of the Church, both in native gifts and in acquired knowledge, excelling by the example of his virtues and the abundance of his teaching.  Hence Saint Remy, commemorating Jerome and several other doctors, concludes as follows: “Augustine outdid them all in genius and knowledge, for, although Jerome admitted that he had read six thousand volumes of Origin, Augustine wrote so many that no one, working day and night, could write his books, nor even succeed in reading them.”  Volusianus, to whom Augustine wrote a letter, says of him: “Anything that Augustine happened not to know is not in the law of God.”

Jerome wrote in a letter to Augustine: “I am not able to respond to your two short works, most learned and brilliant with every splendor of eloquence as they are.  All that genius can say or assume or draw from the fountains of the Scriptures has there been said and treated.  But I beg Your Reverence to allow me to say something in praise of your genius.”  In his book Of the Twelve Doctors, Jerome writes as follows about Augustine: “Augustine the bishop, flying like an eagle over the mountain peaks and not attending to what is at their foot, discoursed in clear language about the broad spaces of the heavens, the length and breadth of the lands, and the circle of the seas.”  And Jerome’s reverence and affection for Augustine appear from the letters he wrote to him, in one of which he says: “To the holy lord and most blessed father Augustine, Jerome sends greetings.  At all times I have venerated Your Beatitude with the honor due you, and have loved the Lord our Savior dwelling in you, buy now, if I may, I add to the sum and bring my veneration to its fullness, lest we let one hour pass without a mention of your name.”  In another letter to the same: “Far be it from me to dare to question anything in Your Beatitude’s books.  I have enough to do to correct my own without criticizing anyone else’s.”

Gregory also, in a letter to Innocent, the prefect of Africa, writes as follows about Augustine’s works: “I am gratified by your interest and your request that I send you my commentary on holy Job; but if you wish to gorge yourself on delicious fare, read the treatises of blessed Augustine, your compatriot, and by comparison with his fine flour you will not ask for my bran.”  In his Register he says: “We read that blessed Augustine would not live in the same house with his sister, saying: ‘The women who are with my sister are not my sisters.’  The caution of that learned man should teach us an important lesson.”

In Ambrose’s Preface we read: “In Augustine’s dying we adore your magnificence, O Lord!  Your power works in all, so that this man, fired by your Spirit, was not led astray by flattering promises, because you had imbued him with every kind of piety, and to you he was altar, sacrifice, priest, and temple.”  Blessed Prosper, in the third book of The Contemplative Life, speaks about him as follows: “Saint Augustine the bishop was keen of mind, suave in his eloquence, thoroughly familiar with secular literature, industrious in his labors for the Church, clear in everyday discussions, well organized in all his activities, acute in solving problems, careful in arguing with heretics, catholic in expounding our faith, cautious in explaining the canonical Scriptures.”   Bernard writes: “Augustine was the mighty hammer of heretics.”

— Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

February 22, 2008

The Golden Legend, in its usual pedagogical way, gives four “reasons for the institution of this solemnity”. Last year on this day I posted the first of them; this year I give the second:

A second reason for the institution of today’s feast is one that is taken from the Itinerarium of Saint Clement. There we read that Peter was going about, preaching the Gospel, and when he approached Antioch, all the people of that city came barefoot, clothed in sackcloth, and sprinkling ashes on their heads, to meet him. They did this by way of penance, because they had taken sides against him with Simon the Magician. Seeing their repentance, Peter thanked God. Then they brought to him all the people who were sickly or were possessed by demons. Peter had them laid out in front of him and called down God’s blessing upon them, and an immense light appeared and all were cured, whereupon they ran after Peter and kissed his footprints. Within a week over ten thousand men were baptized. Theophilus, governor of the city, had his house consecrated as a basilica, in which he erected an elevated chair for Peter so that he might be seen and heard by all. Nor does this account contradict what has been said above [last year]. It is quite possible that after Peter, due to Paul’s intervention, was magnificently welcomed by Theophilus and the townspeople, he may have left the city. Then Simon Magus may have perverted the people and stirred them up against the apostle, but later they would have done penance and again given Peter an honorable reception.

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

Feast of St. Nicholas

December 6, 2007

Sainte Nicholaes, Godes druth,
tymbre us faiere scoone hus.
At thi birth, at thi bare,
Sainte Nicholaes, bring us wel thare.

— St. Godric (c.1170) —

Seint Nicholas was borne in the citee of Patras and was come of noble and riche kinrede. His fader was named Epiphanus and his moder Iohanna. He was begoten in the furst floure of there age, and sithe after they lived in chastite and ladden an heuenly liff. The furst day that he was born, whanne he was bathed he dressed hym vpright in the basin, and he wold neuer take the briste buy onys on the Friday and onys in the Wednisday, and in his tendre age he eschewed the vanitees of yonge children. He haunted gladli to the chirche, and after that he beganne to vnderstond holi scripture he putte it in werke after his powere. . .

And whanne the bisshop of the citee of Myra deied, thanne the bisshoppes assembelid hem togedre to purveie a bisshop to that chirche. And ther was one among other a bisshop of gret auctorite, and that same bisshop herde same nyght a voys that said to hym atte the houre of matenys that he schuld take good hede to the gates of the chirche, and that persone that furst schuld entre into the chirche, and hight Nicholas, that he schuld take hym and sacre hym as for bysshop. So it fel that atte the houre of matenys bi purveiaunce of oure Lord Nicholas come furst, and anone the bisshop toke hym and asked hym what he hight, and he anone mekely ansuered and said: “Nicholas, servaunt of youre holynesse.” Thanne with gret ioye he brought hym to his felawes, and thei sette hym in his chayer. And like as he was meke and vertues afore, so he was after, and encresed in vertues and graces.

– Jacobus de Voragine, The Gilte Legende
(translation c.1440)

The Consecration of St. Nicholas - Paolo Veronese

The Consecration of St. Nicholas – Paolo Veronese

Reading Inferno, Canto XIX

September 21, 2007

Among the many striking aspects of The Divine Comedy is the manner in which Dante sees the spiritual condition of the souls he encounters imaged in their physical manifestations. Think, for instance, of the thieves in Inferno who continually exchange identities with serpents, a vivid portrayal both of their spiritual state and of their incapacity to distinguish what properly belongs to them from what properly belongs to others. The same principle runs through the whole Comedy: the souls show their insides on their outsides. The special punishments, purgations, and beatitudes of those he meets are frequently peculiar, but always worth pondering for what they reveal about that soul’s state. Today I would like to reflect in some detail on one such soul.

We are in the eighth circle, called Malebolge, getting close to the dark, icy heart of Hell. Malebolge is the special domain of the fraudulent; it is divided into a series of concentric ditches, within each of which a particular kind of sinner is enjoying his eternal reward. Dante and Virgil have passed the seducers and flatterers in the first two ditches, and come now to the third. Dante the poet exclaims:

O Simon Magus, O you wretched crew
of his disciples! The things of God should be
espoused to righteousness and love, and you
Rapacious wolves, you pander them for gold,
foul them for silver! Sound the trumpet now
for you — for this third pocket is your place. (l.1-6)

Simon Magus is that same Simon written of in Acts:

But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nations of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying “This man is that power of God which is called Great.” And they all gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. (8:9-11)

From that description, one might think that Simon’s special sin was that of pride — a pride bordering on derangement. But Simon’s sense of entitlement was so highly developed that he actually founded a new sort of sin, that sin which has hereafter been named for him: simony. Acts continues with the story:

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” (8:18-19)

It’s a neat trick if you can manage it. Catch the wind that blows where it will, and bottle it up for later use; turn the gift of the Holy Spirit into an item of trade. Peter sees immediately what is at stake, and rebukes Simon in no uncertain terms. To assimilate the things of the spirit to the logic of the market is futile; to subject spiritual authority, or a spiritual office, to that same logic may not be futile, in worldly terms, but where it succeeds it strikes at the heart of that authority. It is this proximate danger that draws Peter’s sharp rebuke, and Simon responds:

“Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.” (8:24)

It could be read as a penitent response. As far as I know, this is the last we hear from Simon Magus in the New Testament, and on the strength of this story it seems to me that Simon could have come down to us as an example of a repentant sinner. But, for whatever reason, that has not happened. Instead we inherit a rich suite of colourful legends about Simon in which he plays the role of arch-villain to the apostles.

Dante knows these stories well, and draws on them for his study of simony. Describing the appearance of this third ditch, he says:

I saw that on both walls and on the ground
the livid iron stone was full of holes,
all of a size, and every one was round. (l.13-15)

The description continues with a seemingly peculiar allusion to an event from Dante’s own life:

No bigger, and no narrower they appeared
than the holes in my lovely baptistery
of San Giovanni, made for holy fonts,
One of which, and not many years ago,
I had to break to save a boy from drowning —
and let men take that for the stamp of truth. (l.16-21)

He is referring to the famous baptistery in Florence, of course. If this seems a strange time to introduce a tale of rescue, note that it ties into the theme of the destruction of sacred things (though in this case for defensible reasons: he had to smash the font to save the child), and also serves to illustrate the scene, at least for those familiar with the barrel-shaped fonts of the San Giovanni baptistery. The familiarity ends there, however, for Dante sees a strange sight:

Out of the mouth of every hole there stuck
a sinner’s feet and legs up to the fat
above the knee; the rest remained inside. (l.22-24)

There is a comical element here, I think. But it is worth digging deeper and thinking about why Dante chose this particular punishment for the simonists. There are at least two reasons. One is related by Dante the pilgrim a few lines later when one of the barrel-dwellers begins to address him:

There I stood like a friar who hears the sins
of a faithless assassin, head in grave,
who calls him back to hold death off awhile (l.49-51)

In Dante’s day, assassins were executed by being buried alive, but upside down. He therefore draws a direct connection between assassins and simonists; the former kill the political authority, the latter the spiritual. But there is more to it. Consider this story, taken from Christian legend, of the death of Simon Magus:

The day arrived and he [Simon Magus] climbed a high tower. . .wearing a crown of laurel. He jumped off and began to fly. Paul said to Peter: “I’m the one to pray now; you’re the one to command!”. . . Peter said to Paul: “Paul, raise your head and look up!” When Paul looked up, he saw Simon flying and said to Peter: “Peter, what are you waiting for? Finish what you’ve started, because the Lord is already calling us!” Then Peter said: “I adjure you, angels of Satan, you who are holding Simon up in the air, I adjure you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord! Stop holding him up and let him fall!” They released him at once and he crashed to the ground, his skull was fractured, and he expired.” (Legenda Aurea)

In other variations on the story, Simon plummeted with such force that he rested embedded in the ground, his legs protruding. Thus I think it plausible that Dante here intends the very posture of the sinners to mark them as followers of Simon. In fact, he makes this point more clearly a little further on. The soul to whom he speaks, which turns out to be that of Pope Nicholas III (1277-80), says:

Under my head the others are all crammed —
my predecessor popes in simony,
squashed flat into the fissure of the stone. (l.73-75)

They are stacked one upon the other, literal followers of Simon, who, one presumes, is first in line, now deep in the rock. The fact that these are Popes only heightens the wickedness of their actions, for they bore special responsibility for the welfare of the Church, but sold her for a profit. They have turned the spiritual order upside down by subjecting it to worldly concerns, and that inversion too is reflected in their posture. Dante continues his description:

And everywhere the soles were set afire,
making them kick and wrench their joints so hard
they’d have snapped twisted ropes or cords in two.
As flame upon a thing anointed goes
darting and dancing on the peel, so here
flames flickered from their heels up to the toes. (l.22-30)

Here we have a direct allusion to Pentecost as described in Acts:

And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. (2:1-3)

But here, in Hell, the flames rest not on the head, but burn the soles of the feet. It would be hard to imagine a more fitting representation of the perversion of the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I like this Canto because I find it particularly rich in resonances. It makes sense that when dealing with simony Dante should allude to the events related in Acts, for the contrast highlights the way in which simony, especially in high places, prevents the Church being what she is meant to be. He brings in legend, history, Scripture, public and personal life, and ties them all together with a deceptively simple device: by turning his sinners upside down and lighting their feet on fire. Marvellous.


The translation I have used in my quotations from Dante is that of Anthony Esolen.

Inferno, Canto XIX

Feast of St. Augustine

August 28, 2007

Augustine received his name either on account of his high dignity or because of the fervor of his love, or again due to the etymology of the name. He was augustinus by his high rank, because, as Augustus the emperor had excelled above all kings, so Augustine, as Remy says, surpasses all doctors. Other doctors are compared to the stars: “They that instruct many to justice [shall shine] as stars for all eternity.” But Augustine is compared to the sun, as is clear from the epistle that is sung in his honor, since “as the sun when it shines, so did he shine in the temple of God.” Secondly, his name befitted the fervor of his love, because, as the month of August is fervent with the heat of the weather, so Augustine is fervent with the fire of the love of God. In his Confessions he says of himself: “You have pierced my heart with the arrow of your love”; and in the same book: “Sometimes you put into my innermost being a very unaccustomed affection — I know not what sweetness — which, if it be made perfect in me, I know not what it will be unless it will be eternal life.”

Thirdly, there is the etymology of the name. Augustinus comes from augeo, I increase, astin, city, and ana, above. Hence Augustine is one who increases the city on high, wherefore we sing of him: “qui praevaluit amplificare civitatem” — he who is powerful enough to enlarge the city. About this city he himself says in the eleventh book of the City of God: “The city of God has origin, knowledge, happiness. If one asks whence the city comes, God founded it; if whence its wisdom comes, it is enlightened by God; if whence its happiness, it has God to enjoy. From him it has subsistence and measure, contemplating him it has its light, inhering in him, its pleasure. It sees and loves, it flourishes in God’s eternity, it shines in God’s truth, it has enjoyment in God’s goodness.” Or, as the Glossary says, the name Augustine means magnificent, happy, excellent. The saint was magnificent in his life and excellent in his teaching, and is happy in eternal glory.

His life was complied by Possidius, bishop of Calama, as Cassiodorus says in his Book of Illustrious Men.

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)


Feast of St. Benedict

July 11, 2007

“In the days of Totila a Goth named Galla, an Arian heretic, resorted to the most monstrous cruelties against the Catholic Church’s religious men. No cleric or monk who came face to face with him could escape death at his hands. One day, afire with the heat of greed and looking eagerly for plunder, he was inflicting various kinds of torture on a certain peasant, and the victim, unable to endure the pain, blurted out that he had put himself and his property under the protection of Benedict, the servant of God. His tormentor believed this and allowed the suffering man a spell of relief, but, while desisting from his savage treatment of the peasant, had his arms bound with stout thongs and marched him ahead of his horse to find this Benedict who had taken over the man’s goods. The peasant, his arms tied behind him, led his oppressor to the holy man’s monastery and found him sitting at the door of his cell reading a book. The rustic said to Galla, who was following him fuming with rage: “This is Father Benedict, the one I spoke about.”

Galla looked at the saint and, carried away by his perverse wrath, thought he would terrorize this monk as he was used to terrorizing others. He shouted at him: “Get up, get up, and return this fellow’s property to him!” Hearing this voice, the man of God looked up from his book and stared at Galla and the man who was held in bonds. When the saint glanced at the peasant’s arms, the thongs that held them miraculously fell off, more quickly than any man could have untied them. Galla, seeing the man who had been bound now standing free, was shaken at the sight of such power. He dismounted, fell to the ground, and bent his cruel, stiff neck at Benedict’s feet, commending himself to the holy man’s prayers. The saint hardly interrupted his reading, but called the monks and ordered them to take Galla inside, where he would receive a blessing and some food. When the Goth was brought back to him, Benedict admonished him to give up his insane cruelty. Galla took his leave and no longer dared to demand anything of the peasant whose bonds the saint had loosed, not with his hands but with a glance from his eyes.”

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

Feast of St. George

April 23, 2007

The name George is derived from geos, meaning earth, and orge, meaning to work; hence one who works the earth, namely, his own flesh. Now Augustine writes in his book On the Holy Trinity that good earth is found high on the mountains, in the temperate climate of the hills, and in level ground: the first bears good grass, the second, grapes, and the third, the fruits of the fields. Thus blessed George was on the heights because he disdained base things and so had the fresh green of purity; he was temperate by his prudence and so shared the wine of heavenly joy; he was lowly in his humility and therefore bore the fruits of good works. Or George is derived from gerar, holy, and gyon, sand, therefore, holy sand; for he was like sand, heavy with the weight of his virtues, small by humility, and dry of the lusts of the flesh. Or again, the name comes from gerar, holy, and gyon, struggle; so a holy fighter, because he fought against the dragon and the executioner. Or George comes from gero, pilgrim, gir, cut off, and ys, counselor, for he was a pilgrim in his contempt for the world, cut off by gaining the crown of martyrdom, and a counselor in his preaching of the Kingdom. At the council of Nicea his legend was included among the apocryphal writings because there is no sure record of his martyrdom. In Bede’s Calendar we read that he was martyred in the Persian city of Dyaspolis, which formerly was called Lidda and is near Joppe. Elsewhere we read that he suffered under the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, or under the Persian emperor Dacian in the presence of seventy kings of his empire. Or we are told that he was put to death by the prefect Dacian during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian.

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

The Chair of St. Peter

February 22, 2007

There are three kinds of ‘chair’ – the royal chair, or throne, 2 Sam. 23:8: ‘David sitting in the chair, etc.’; the priestly chair, 1 Kings 1:9: ‘Now Eli the priest was sitting on a stool before the door of the temple of the Lord’; and the magisterial or professorial chair, Matt. 23:1: ‘The scribes and the Pharisees have sat on the chair of Moses.’ Peter sat on the royal chair because he was first among all kings; on the priestly chair because he was the shepherd of all clerics; and on the magisterial chair because he was the teacher of all Christians.

The Church commemorates the Chair of St. Peter with a feast day because blessed Peter is said to have been raised on this day to the seat of honour in Antioch. There appear to be four reasons for the institution of this solemnity. The first is that when blessed Peter was preaching in Antioch, Theophilus, governor of the city, said to him: ‘Peter, why are you corrupting my people?’ Peter then preached the faith of Christ to Theophilus, who immediately had him imprisoned and deprived of food and drink. The apostle was almost exhausted but regained some strength, turned his eyes to heaven, and said: ‘Christ Jesus, helper of the helpless, come to my aid! These trials have almost destroyed me!’ The Lord answered him: ‘Peter, did you think I had deserted you? You impugn my kindness when you are not afraid to say such things against me! The one who will relieve your misery is at hand!’

Meanwhile Saint Paul heard of Peter’s imprisonment. He presented himself to Theophilus, asserted that he was highly skilled in many arts and crafts, and said that he knew how to sculpt in wood and stone and could do many other kinds of work as well. Theophilus pressed him to stay on as a member of his household. A few days later Paul went secretly to Peter in his cell and found him very weak and almost dead. Paul wept bitterly and took Peter in his arms, weeping profusely, and burst out: ‘O my brother Peter, my glory, my joy, the half of my soul, now that I am here you must recover your strength!’ Peter opened his eyes, recognized Paul, and began to cry but could not speak. Paul quickly opened the other’s mouth, forced food into him, and thus got some warmth into his body. The food strengthened Peter, who threw himself into Paul’s embrace and both of them shed a flood of tears.

Paul left the jail cautiously and went back to Theophilus, to whom he said: ‘O good Theophilus, great is your fame, and your courtliness is the friend of honour. But a small evil counteracts your good! Think about what you have done to that worshiper of God who is called Peter, as if he were someone of importance! He is in rags, misshapen, reduced to skin and bones, a nobody, notable only for what he says. Do you think it is right to put such a man in jail? If he were enjoying the freedom to which he is accustomed, he might be able to do you some useful service. For instance, some say that he restores the sick to health and the dead to life!’ Theophilus: ‘Idle tales, Paul, idle tales! If he could raise the dead, he would free himself from prison!’ Paul: ‘Just as his Christ rose from the dead (or so they say) yet would not come down from the cross, so Peter, following Christ’s example (it is said), does not set himself free and is not afraid to suffer for Christ!’ Theophilus: ‘Tell him, then, to bring my son, who has been dead for fourteen years, back to life, and I will release him unharmed and free!’ Paul therefore went to Peter’s cell and told him he had solemnly promised Theophilus that his son would be brought back to life. ‘That’s a hard promise to keep, Paul,’ said Peter, ‘but God’s power will make it easy!’ Peter was taken out of prison and led to the tomb. He prayed, and the governor’s son came to life immediately.

There are some things here, however, that sound improbable, for instance, that Paul would pretend that he had the natural skills needed to do and make a variety of things, or that the son’s sentence of death was suspended for fourteen years. But however that may be, Theophilus and the whole population of Antioch, together with a great many other people, believed in Christ. They built a magnificent church and erected an elevated throne in the center, to which they lifted Peter up so that he could be seen and heard by everybody. He occupied that chair for seven years, but afterwards went to Rome and ruled the see of Rome for twenty-five years. The Church, however, celebrates this first honour because it was the beginning of the custom by which bishops are distinguished by place, power, and name. Thus what we read in Ps. 106:32 is fulfilled: ‘Let them exalt him in the church of the people, and praise him in the chair of the ancients.’

– Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
(trans. William Granger Ryan)

Perhaps I’ll post the other three reasons ‘for the institution of this solemnity’ later [for instance, next year].