This feast commemorates Christ’s choosing Peter to sit in his place as the servant-authority of the whole Church.
Jesus bestowed to Peter a special place among the Apostles. He was one of the three who were with Christ on special occasions, such as the Transfiguration of Christ and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was the only Apostle to whom Christ appeared on the first day after the Resurrection. St. Peter, in turn, often spoke on behalf of the Apostles.
When Jesus asked the Apostles: “Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?”
Simon replied: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
And Jesus said: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood have not revealed it to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you: That you are Peter [Cephas, a rock], and upon this rock [Cephas] I will build my Church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven”. (Mt 16:13-20)
In saying this Jesus made St. Peter the head of the entire community of believers and placed the spiritual guidance of the faithful in St. Peter’s hands.
The earliest mention of a celebration of the See of St Peter on this day is in a calendar dating to 311. It is believed that on this day St Peter made his confession of faith, and accordingly an older Collect for the feast said that on this day the Lord gave St Peter to the Church to be its head, as Christ’s Vicar on earth.