Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches (Part 8)

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent - St Eusebius
In the historical lectionary of the Roman Rite, this was the day on which the Gospel of the Raising of Lazarus (John 11, 1-45) was read; the station was therefore kept at the church of St Eusebius on the Esquiline hill, right next to a very ancient Roman cemetery.



This inscription of the year 1582 records that Pope Gregory XIII granted indulgences of ten years and ten Lents for visiting the church on the feast of the titular Saint (August 14), and those of Pope St Leo I and St Benedict (at the time, April 11 and March 21 respectively), to two of the church’s chapels are dedicated.
From Fr Alek: St Eusebius was a Roman priest who is traditionally said to have died in the mid-4th century after several months of forced confinement in his house, inflicted on him because of his stance against the Arian heresy. He is depicted in the ceiling of the church’s nave with a book in his hands on which are written in Greek the words of the Nicene Creed “consubsantial with the Father”, (not “one in being.”)
Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent - St Nicholas “in the prison”
The peculiar title of this church comes from a tradition that St Nicholas of Myra was brought to Rome and imprisoned by the Emperor Constantius for his refusal to accept the heresy of Arius. The church encompasses the remains of three temples built in the later years of the Roman Republic, the basements of which were in fact used a prisons in antiquity. The station for this day was originally kept at the church of St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls, but transferred here in the Middle Ages. Therefore, the last three stations of Lent, as a season distinguished from Passiontide, are held at churches dedicated to Confessors, where the earlier stations are at churches of the Virgin, the Apostles and the Martyrs. (For further explanation, see this article: “Raising the Dead in Lent.”

From Fr Alek
A very nice shot of a reliquary bust.
Passion Sunday - St Peter’s Basilica
On this day, the chapter of St Peter’s Basilica celebrates Vespers with particular solemnity, after which the Veil of St Veronica is exposed for the veneration of the faithful from the balcony of one of the great pillars which support the church’s dome. The procession is held entirely within the church, which is of course the largest in the world; the high altar is covered with relics, as also on the Ember Saturday of Lent, when the Station is also held here.



Another fantastic shot from Fr Alek: the hand of the Prophet Elijah seems to point to God the Father at the top of the cupola. The pillars St Peter’s, including those of the enormous apse, have statues of the founders of various religious in their niches, with Elijah among them as the traditional founder of the Carmelites.

Relics are displayed on the high altar for the church’s two Lenten stations, Ember Saturday and Passion Sunday. The relics of martyrs are placed closer to the edge of the mensa, and those of other Saints further in; the four corners are decorated with reliquaries shaped like obelisks, with long bones (tibias and such) in them. Two rectangular panels are set one on each short side of the mensa, each containing relics of 35 Popes, between the two of them, all of the Sainted Popes except the most recent. On the long side facing the apse, a bust reliquary of Pope St Damasus I (366-84, feast on December 11), containing the relics of his skull, is placed in the middle. This is a particularly appropriate choice, since he was a great promoter of devotion to the Saints and the cult of the relics, particularly those of the Roman martyrs. Within many catacombs, he rearranged the spaces around the tombs of the martyrs to make it easier for pilgrims to find and visit them, and decorated the tombs themselves with elaborately carved inscriptions written by himself in classical poetic meter. For this reason, he is honored as the patron saint of archeologists.
Monday of Passion Week - St Chrysogonus


The church is in the care of the Trinitarian Fathers, one of the medieval ransomin orders whose mission was to rescue Christians captured and held as slaves in Muslim lands. The red and blue cross is traditionally said to have been divinely revealed as their distinctive symbol to their founders, Ss John of Matha and Felix of Valois.


From Fr Alek: St Chrysosgonus, a Roman martyr of the 4th century, glorified as a martyr in heaven. His traditional legend is considered historically unreliable, but he was one of the most venerated Saints of the early church, and is named in the Canon of the Mass.
A statue of the Redeemer wearing the scapular of the Trinitians.

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