Thursday, March 08, 2018

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2018 (Part 5)

We continue our annual Lenten visit to the station churches with our Roman pilgrims, Agnese and Fr Alek.

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent - Ss Marcellinus and Peter
This church was originally constructed in the 4th century, in honor of two Roman martyrs of the persecution of Diocletian, the priest Marcellinus and the exorcist Peter; they are named in the Canon of the Mass, and their feast is kept on June 2nd. By the mid-18th century it had fallen into ruins and had to be completely rebuilt. It is below the level of the modern street on which it sits, at the corner of the via Merulana and the via Labicana, but not as severely as San Vitale, which we saw in the previous post of this series.



From Fr Alek.
The Third Sunday of Lent - St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls
St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls is one of Rome’s oldest churches, built by the Emperor Constantine in the first years of the peace of the Church, over the site of the great martyr’s burial. Pope St Sixtus III (432-40) built a second church on the site, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, flush with one of the walls of the Constantinian structure; this wall was then taken down at the time of Pelagius II (579-590, St Gregory the Great’s predecessor), transforming the Marian church into the nave of St Lawrence’s. The sanctuary was then rebuilt at a rather higher level than the nave, with a large crypt beneath it; the difference in levels can be seen below. The dedication to the Virgin Mary of what is now the nave is remembered in the traditional Gospel of day, which ends with the verses from Luke 11 commonly read on Our Lady’s feasts, and at Her Saturday votive Mass. “And it came to pass, as He spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him: Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the paps that gave Thee suck. But He said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.”
Pilgrims pass in procession though the side aisle of the church...
...down into the crypt...
...pass the slab of marble on which St Lawrence’s grill was set up...
...and the tomb of Bl. Pius IX.

From Fr Alek
Mosaic from Pope Pelagius II’s intervention in the church in the later 6th century.
19th century mosaic work in the crypt
A great shot of the gallery which along either side of the sanctuary.
Monday of the Third Week - St Mark
These are all from Fr Alek: here is the mosaic in the church’s apse. The figure on the left with the square blue halo, which indicates that he was alive at the time the image was made, and not yet a Saint in heaven, is Pope St Gregory IV (828-44).
The church was originally dedicated by Pope Mark, who reigned for less than 10 months in 336 AD, to his namesake the Evangelist. Because St Mark is the Patron of Venice, which nicked his relics from Alexandria in Egypt in 828, it has often been given as the cardinalitial title to the bishops of that city; six Popes have been elected while cardinal of this church, four of whom were Patriarch at the time of their election. (Gregory XII, 1406-15, the last Pope to resign before Benedict XVI; Paul II, 1464-71; Clement XIII, 1758-69; and John Paul I, 33 days in 1978.) The church is now surrounded on three sides by the Palazzo Venezia, formerly the embassy of the Venetian Republic to the Papal States, and later on, of the Austrian Empire to Italy.
Pope Mark, one of the very earliest Confessors to be venerated as a Saint, painted here by Melozzo da Forlì ca. 1470 at the behest of the Venetian Pope Paul II (1464-71).
In the church’s choir is this image by Guillaume Courtois of St Mark the Evangelist, whose martyrdom, according to the traditional legend, began on Easter Sunday, when was dragged away from the altar in the middle of celebrating Mass.
Tuesday of the Third Week - Santa Pudenziana
Like San Vitale and Ss Peter and Marcellinus, the Basilica of Saint Pudentiana is now sunk below the street level, as new layers of buildings have been built up around it. In the 1920s, the church required such an extensive renovation that an alternative station was appointed for this day at the church of St Agatha. From 1556 to 1565, the Cardinal-Priest of this church was Scipione Rebiba; the vast majority of Latin Rite Catholic bishops (and therefore the priests ordained by them) today derive their Apostolic succession from this man through Pope Benedict XIII (1724-30).

The apsidal mosaic was made around the end of the 4th century. It has been heavily patched and restored, and clipped off at the edges by a major renovation of the 1590s; despite this, it remains an important example of the early Church’s use of the iconography of imperial power. Christ is dressed as the Emperor, and the Apostles as the senators. Many of the early Christian Emperors did not believe that their authority ended at the church’s door, and many of the early heresies were either promoted or created by the Roman Emperors. Images of this sort send the message that in the Church, Christ and His Saints are the ruling power.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: