Friday, April 03, 2015

Roman Sacrament Altars, Holy Thursday 2015

The last time I did this was in 2013; this year I took a different route, and visited some new churches. As always, there were pilgrims from all over the world, praying alongside the clergy and the native Romans. Members of Rome’s Filippino community were doing the stations of the Cross by visiting fourteen different Roman churches; they stopped in at the Russian College while the Matins of the Twelve Gospels was being sung, and I ran into them again later on at San Marcello al Corso. The church of Saint Chrysogonus, run by the Trinitarian Order, deserves a special mention for having very much improved their “sepolcro”, as the Italians call it, from what they had the last time I saw it several years ago, replacing a giant cut-out of Christ and the Apostles at the Last Supper with a much more traditional arrangement. I was also able to visit one of the most famous Sacrament altars in Rome, at the Madonna dell’Orto, with a spectacular display of over 200 candles. The altar at Saint Benedict ‘in Piscinula’ is also noteworthy for being set up in a the room where St Benedict had his cell when he was living in Rome.
Santa Maria Maggiore
Saint Peter in Chains 
The Paschal moon, seen through a gap in the upper stage of the nearby Colosseum.
San Marcello al Corso

Members of the Roman Filippino community, just after finishing the Stations of the Cross 
Santa Maria sopra Minerva (Dominicans)
Santi Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari (Barnabites)
Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini (F.S.S.P.)

Saint Agatha in Trastevere
Saint Chrysogonus (Trinitarians)

Saint Benedict ‘in Piscinula’
Saint Cecilia in Trastevere
Madonna dell’Orto

San Francesco a Ripa
Saint Anthony Abbot (The church of the Pontifical Russian College, or ‘Russicum’)
This is not, of course, a Sacrament altar, the use of which is not part of the Byzantine liturgical tradition. The Cross set in the middle of the church becomes the focal point of many of the celebrations of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. At Matins of Good Friday, traditionally anticipated on the evening of Holy Thursday, twelve Gospel readings of the Passion are sung from the lectern seen here. On Good Friday, a large table is set in front of the Cross; at Vespers, an icon of the burial of Christ, usually an elaborately decorated cloth, is carried from the main Sanctuary and laid on the table, while a priest carrying the Gospel book walks under it.
Gospel book in Old Church Slavonic

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