Friday, April 04, 2014

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches - Part 9

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent - San Lorenzo in Damaso
The church is nicknamed from the Pope who founded it, St Damasus I (366-384), in honor of St Lawrence, who has more churches dedicated to him in Rome than do Ss Peter and Paul. The church was rebuilt in the 1ater 15th-century, in such a way that it is almost completely enclosed by the “Palazzo della Cancelleria”, the Papal chancery building. The procession before the Mass was held within the Cancelleria’s courtyard.

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent - Saint Paul’s Outside-the-Walls
The ancient church of St Paul Outside-the-Walls was almost destroyed by fire in 1823, reconstructed over the following decades under the auspices of Pope Leo XII (1823-29), Pius VIII (1829-30), Gregory XVI (1831-46) and Blessed Pius IX (1846-78). The latter dedicated the rebuilt church on December 10, 1854, two days after making the formal dogmatic proclamation of the Immaculate Conception, with almost all of the same members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy present.
Traditionally, the principal altar of the church, like that of St Peter’s, could only be used by the Pope, and there was another below it in the church’s “confessio”. (A confessio is an area in front of a main altar, built at a lower level so that the tomb upon which the main altar rests can remain accessible from the front.) The altar was recently removed, exposing the site where the Apostle St Paul was originally buried.
Old drawings of the previous church show a large 16th-century baldachin built over this earlier baldachin by Arnolfo di Cambio, more famous as the first architect of the cathedral of Florence. When the church burnt down in 1823, the second baldachin protected the first from the collapsing ceiling, leaving it as one of the few parts of the older church that survives essentially intact. The second baldachin was rebuilt as part of the new church, but later removed.
The original church, and the rebuilding of it, are actually larger than the old Basilica of St Peter; large enough that the penitential procession for Mass can be held entirely within the building itself.

The church is also famously contains mosaic portraits of all of the Popes above the colonnade, from St Peter to Francis; these are made and maintained by the same mosaic laboratory that maintains the Basilica of St Peter.
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent - San Martino ai Monti (Saints Martin and Silvester)
This church was built on the sight of a very ancient house church, the titulus Equitii, and is believed to be the oldest parish in Rome. It was first built as a church by Pope Silvester I (314-335), and was later dedicated to him and St. Martin of Tours (born 316, bishop from 371-397), the first Confessors honored as Saints. They are seen here to the left and right in reliefs on the newly cleaned façade.

The church was massively rebuilt by Cardinals Diomede Carraffa and St Charles Borromeo, who was the Cardinal-Priest from 1560-64. In memory of St Charles, five successive archbishops of Milan were given this church as their cardinalitial title in the 20th century: Achille Ratti (1921-22), elected Pope Pius XI after less than 8 months as archbishop and cardinal; Eugenio Tosi (1922-29); Blessed Ildephonse Schuster (1929-54); Giovanni Battista Montini (1958-63), elected Pope Paul VI; and Giovanni Colombo (1965-92).
Part of the crypt, which sits at the level of the earlier church built by Pope Silvester.

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