JANUARY 20, 2019 - "THE CHAINS OF ST. PETER"
The Acts of the Apostles tell the amazing story of the growth of the Church in its earliest years. The Christian Faith spread from country to country and from people to people. But in those years, there was persecution, suffering and death, too. The rulers of the Roman Empire, along with the enemies of Christ, made life difficult for those involved in the spread of the Gospel.
Wicked King Herod had the Apostle James, brother of St. John, killed by the sword. And then he had St. Peter arrested and put into prison. However, the Christian faithful did not abandon those who were persecuted. They gathered, even at night, at the home of Mary, mother of John Mark, to pray to the Lord for aid. As for Peter, he was guarded by four squads of Roman Soldiers, in fact he slept at night between two of them, bound with chins, and with sentries at the doors.
It was then that a brilliant light pierced the prison cell and an Angel of the Lord appeared, work Peter up and the chains fell off his hands. They hurried out past the guards, out of the prison and into freedom. At first Peter thought it was all a dream, but soon came to realize that the miraculous event was real. He went to the home where Christians met for prayer and there amazed them with his presence. It is this event that is commemorated by the “Chains of Peter” in the Church Calendar.
The icon vividly depicts the scene s the Angel of Gods takes St. Peter by the hand and leads him out of the prison, even as the chains fall to the ground and the guards slumber on. Of course, Peter went on spreading the Gospel and the Faith until his death for Christ.