Today, Pope Benedict reflects on that event recorded in Acts 12:1-19 where Peter is imprisoned by Herod. The Holy Father makes a touching personal connection between the prayer support Peter received from the Church which came to fulfillment in his miraculous release from prison and the prayer support he receives as a successor to St. Peter, for which he is most grateful.
This incident has long been honored in the life of the Church. A minor basillica in Rome bears the name of this event, as well as the Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In the old 1962 liturgical calendar, the feast of St. Peter in Chains was celebrated on August 1st.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now consider Saint Peter’s miraculous liberation from imprisonment on the eve of his trial in Jerusalem. Saint Luke tells us that as “the Church prayed fervently to God for him” (Acts 12:5), Peter was led forth from the prison by an Angel of light. The account of Peter’s rescue recalls both Israel’s hasty exodus from bondage in Egypt and the glory of Christ’s resurrection. Peter was sleeping, a sign of his surrender to the Lord and his trust in the prayers of the Christian community. The fulfillment of this prayer is accompanied by immense joy, as Peter rejoins the community and bears witness to the Risen Lord’s saving power. Peter’s liberation reminds us that, especially at moments of trial, our perseverance in prayer, and the prayerful solidarity of all our brothers and sisters in Christ, sustains us in faith. As Peter’s Successor, I thank all of you for the support of your prayers and I pray that, united in constant prayer, we will all draw ever closer to the Lord and to one another.
The full text should be available on the Vatican website next week and an unofficial translation will be on Zenit’s website by the end of the day. For a really unofficial translation, you could also try using Google Translate on the Italian text.