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And The Chains Fell Off His Wrists

I almost missed it today.  What, with today's special City Council election in Alexandria, a planned breakfast with my Stephen Ministry care receiver, and later spending much of the day toiling over a hot laptop to begin crafting the narratives for my CPE application(s), I had forgotten to do something.  While I made a skosh of time for "God's Minute" and read Morning Prayer from "The Little Book of Hours", I had not read the lessons of the day.  Specifically, it was the NT lesson from Acts 12:1-18 that grabbed me.  Peter has been arrested by King Herod during the festival of Unleavened Bread:

"The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell.  He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly."  And the chains fell off his wrists.  The angel said to him, "Fasten your belt and put on your sandals."  He did so.  Then he said to him, "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me."  Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel's help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.  After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the ir on gate leading into the city.  It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him.  Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting." 

When in Rome, Chrissie and I always visit San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains).  It is a "minor" basilica, first built in the middle of the 5th century, to house the relic of the chains that bound Saint Peter while imprisoned in Jerusalem.  According to legend, when Empress Eudoxia (wife of Emperor Valentinian III) gave Pope Leo I the chains as a gift, he compared them to the chains of St. Peter's first imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome and the two chains miraculously fused together.  The chains are kept in a reliquary under the main altar in the basilica.  Oh yes, you will also find there Michelangelo's most truly marvelous statue of Moses (it is one of my favorites).