"Chair of Peter" in St Peter's Basilica


Hey guys,

I was just reading about the Chair of St.Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica and read that the 18 ivory plaques on the front of the chair show the 12 Labors of Hercules and six monsters.

Does anyone know what the significance of these plaques are and why they are on the chair? They seem like a strange thing to be included on St. Peter’s Chair.

Thanks a lot,


Are these placques supposed to be on the chair? The Bernini Chair as I recall has as supports the Four Doctors of the Church [2 East 2 West], I do not remember any placques…

The stain glass window has a dove and a sunburst…this is a favorite of TV casts from the Basilica…The Altar of the Chair is behind the Main Altar which has a Bernini canopy over it…


I’ve never seen it in person and couldn’t find any detailed pictures that show these panels but here is an excerpt from the description of the chair from New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia:

“The oak frame was reinforced by the insertion of pieces of acacia, and new panels of the same wood were made for the front and sides. The front panel is adorned with square slabs of ivory, disposed in three rows of six each, representing the labors of Hercules. Some of these slabs are placed upside down and were not, apparently, made for the places they occupy. The ivory ornaments of the back, on the contrary, are well adapted to the form of the chair; they represent the combats of animals, of centaurs and of men.”

I wondering if these were part of the original chair or added later on. Couldn’t find any resource explaining why they were chosen to be included.



New Advent website has a pretty good explaination of the chair here is link to it.

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