A Relic from the Original Chair of St. Peter with the Pontifical Coat of Arms, the Cross Keys & Tiara
The artifact featured here is an oval reliquary measuring 52 X 46 cm, with a relic of the original Chair of St. Peter enclosed in glass, with sealing wax and silk threads intact. The wax seal and unbroken threads authenticate the relic, as does the document of authenticity accompanying the item. The image of the papal cross keys & tiara are what drew the Curator to this particular item.
As can be seen in the photo, the original throne is decorated with small carved ivory plaques showing the labors of Hercules and some celestial constellations. The chair is actually visible through Bernini’s canopy.
An ancient tradition holds that the Apostle himself sat upon it during sermons. However, the archaeologist G.B. De Rossi, who was able to examine the venerable relic during one of the centenary festivities in 1867, the last time that the Chair was put on show, concluded that only the acacia wood skeleton dates from the early age, while the other parts in oak, anchored to the skeleton by strips of iron and the ivory plaques, belong to a re-construction of the Chair made in the Byzantine period.
This reliquary is thought to be the original acacia wood dating from the time of St. Peter himself using the chair.