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Exploring the Miracle of Saint Peter’s Chains

The Precious Chains of Apostle Peter – a Relic of the Church

The precious chains of Apostle Peter

On this day, the Russian Orthodox Church celebrates the miracle that happened to Apostle Peter in c.a. 42 AD. For his preaching of Christ, King Herod Agrippa had him imprisoned and shacked in a pair of iron chains to prevent his escape from trial and execution. Yet, on the eve of the trial, an angel came to him, freed him from his shackles and led him out of jail.

This miracle exemplifies the power of church prayer. As Apostle Peter was awaiting his imminent death between two prison guards, the church was praying ceaselessly for his salvation. The two wakeful guards did not notice the unshackling of Peter, despite being under strict orders to be on the alert. When Peter was in safety, the angel struck dead King Herod in punishment for his persecution of the Church. His death returned to the Christians of the Holy Land the sense of peace and security.

Peter's behaviour before and during the miracle was also instructive. Knowing of his soon-to-come death, he was sleeping, having resigned himself to the will of God. As we read in the Book of Acts, as Peter was following the Angel he had no idea what he was doing, and thought that he was seeing a vision. Only after walking the length of the street with the angel did Peter come back to his senses and say, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

In memory of this miracle, Christians have venerated the shackles equally with the relics of the Holy Apostles. At first, the relics remained in Jerusalem and produced multiple healings in those who approached them with faith. In the fifth century, the wife of the Byzantine emperor Judoka had them transferred to Constantinople.

January 29, 2024
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