Friday, March 21, 2014

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches - Part 5

Thank you once again, Agnese, for these beautiful photos!

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent - Santa Balbina (on the Aventine Hill)

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent - Santa Cecilia in Trastevere
The Basilica of St Cecilia in the Trastevere region of Rome is the home of a community of Benedictine nuns.

This famous statue of Saint Cecilia by Stefano Maderno represents the Saint’s body as she was discovered in her tomb under the altar, when it was opened in 1599.

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent - Santa Maria in Trastevere
The beauty of this church today hides well the fact that in when Stations were instituted for the Thursdays of Lent by Pope St. Gregory II, (715-31), Trastevere was one of the poorest and least well-kept areas of the city, highly vulnerable to the winter flooding of the Tiber. The traditional Gospel of this day, of  Lazarus and Dives, (St. Luke 16, 19-31) was almost certainly chosen for this reason, as a highly pertinent reminder to the rich of their duties towards the poor.  

Many of Rome’s churches still preserve this Medieval style of mosaic, known as Cosmatesque; this floor is from the mid-12th century. The individual strips of white marble and the colored tiles are both taken from the walls of ancient Roman buildings, which by the Middle Ages had long ago fallen into decay. Much of the material had been brought to Rome in ancient times from the furthest corners of the Empire; the purple stone seen here, called porphyry, came from Egypt, and the green serpentine is from Asia Minor. Before the massive renovations of many Roman churches in the Renaissance and Counter-Reformation periods, the style was commonly used not just in the floors, but all over the buildings; in the last photograph from Santa Balbina above, you can see a Cosmatesque throne at the vary back of the church’s sanctuary.

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