Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2008
Stained glass tells of St. Peterís career
People suffering from loneliness pray for St. Peterís intercession
St. Peter – Feburary 22
By TED FITZGERALD
The feast celebrates the papacy of the apostle who figures so prominently in the Scriptures.
Inside, the cathedral of the Poitevins is impressive, with towering columns breaking the huge church into three broad aisles capped by ornate, Plantagenet style rib vaults.
Stained glass windows portray events in the lives of Christ, the saints and in Peterís career, while the ornate, hand-carved choir stalls are said to be some of the oldest in existence. The church also claims the last of the pre-Revolutionary Cliquot organs to survive.
What invites a pause enroute up the centre aisle is the patronís seated image. The apostle is shown on an elaborate gold-trimmed white throne. The 19th century image is said to be a copy of a statue in Saint Peterís Basilica in the Vatican.
The bearded, barefoot leader has his right hand raised in blessing, his left holding the keys, ďI will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.Ē (Matthew-16:19).
What makes this statue of the first pope in his Poitiers Cathedral unusual is the inscription beneath the seated Peter. Authorized some 150 years ago by Pope Pius IX, it refers to indulgences that may be obtained for departed loved ones by praying and touching the statue.
This ancient church tradition is kept alive here by the deep faith of the people in the efficacy of the saintís intercession on their behalf with God.
Statues of the saint similar to that at Poitiers are found in other Poitou churches where Peterís intercession has traditionally been sought to assist people suffering from loneliness or young women desiring to find a husband.
Other saints associated with Poitierís Cathedral include sixth-century bishop Venatius Fortunatus, composer of a large number of still extant poems and hymns.
Another bishop, Peter of Poitiers (1087) was a co-founder of famed Fontevreault Abbey, while the Daughters of Wisdom order was co-founded in Poitiers by Saint-Louis-Marie-Grignion-de-Montfort and blessed Marie Trichet in 1703.
Other city churches, dedicated to local saints, are usually open for visits and form part of the religious heritage of 2000 year-old ďPoitiers, a town with over a hundred church towers.Ē
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