People who are in lock-down mode, whether emotionally, spiritually or at home, because of the COVID-19 virus can find hope by celebrating a feast which reminds them of the time St. Peter broke out of prison with some heavenly help.  

The feast of St. Peter in Chains was a feast day commemorated on Aug. 1 to recall St. Peter’s miraculous release from captivity from the jail in Jerusalem. The account is recorded in Acts 12:6-7: “On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ The chains fell from his wrists.”  

According to tradition, the chains that had bound St. Peter were given to Pope Leo by Empress Eudoxia, wife of Emperor Valentinian III, who had received them from her mother, who in turn had received them as a gift from a bishop in Jerusalem. 

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The chains that shackled St. Peter during two of his imprisonments, once in Jerusalem and once in Rome, are housed in the San Pietro in Vincoli Basilica in Rome. Photo by Richard Meek | The Catholic Commentator

 

It is said when the pope held the chains next to the chains from St. Peter’s first imprisonment in the Mamertine prison in Rome, the two chains miraculously fused together. San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains), a minor basilica in Rome, was dedicated in 442 to house the two chains that bound St. Peter.  

They remain fused together and are kept in a reliquary under the main altar in the basilica. 

Michelangelo’s statue of Moses is also in the church.

The feast day is no longer on the current liturgical calendar but one many Catholics still recognize. 

The feast was also called “Lammas Day” or “Loaf Mass Day” because the day was offered as thanksgiving for the wheat harvest, used for the bread that becomes the Eucharist. 

Since bread should always be on the table when you have a feast, pull up a chair and pass the butter! 

Catholic Cuisine offers a recipe to unlock the fun on this feast day. Use any bread or pretzel recipe, or if in a hurry, pre-made refrigerated dough. 

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups warm water 

1 package yeast 

1 Tbsp sugar 

1 Tbsp salt 

4 cups flour 

1 egg (optional) 

Directions: 

Dissolve the yeast in warm water.  Add the sugar and salt.  Mix in the flour and knead until the dough is smooth.  Roll out dough and form into desired shape – in this case into chain links. Connect the links to form a chain. Brush the dough with a beaten egg for a golden finish if desired. Bake in a preheated oven at 425˚F for 15 minutes.