St. Peter's Chains

     St. Peter, the first pope, was imprisoned on 2 separate occasions during his 25 year reign as the Vicar of Christ.
     The pious Eudocia, wife of Emperor Teodosio II, journeyed to Jerusalem and found the chain that had bound Peter during his second imprisonment. According to the Acts of the Apostles (12:6), an angel caused the chains to fall from Peter's hands and led him past slumbering guards to freedom.
     The chain was eventually given as a gift to Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461). In Rome there was already a chain that was greatly prized which had bound the saint during his nine month imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison near the Forum. When the pope compared the two chains, they miraculously fused together into one unbreakable series of links. Because of this miracle, Empress Eudocia built the Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains, and dedicated it to the apostle in the year 442. The relic is now kept in a golden urn beneath the high altar, close to the famous statue of Michelangelo's Moses.

   St. Peter was crucified  in the year 67. He requested to be nailed to the cross upside-down, because he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Photos, courtesy Tom Serafin

Text, courtesy Joan Carroll Cruz, Relics, ©1984

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last edited March 26, 1997