Friday, March 29, 2013

Roman Sacrament Altars, Holy Thursday 2013

One of the most beautiful things about Holy Week in Rome is the long-standing popular custom of visiting the Sacrament Altars (often called “sepolcri - sepulchers” in Italian) of seven churches on the evening of Holy Thursday, a practice to which is attached a plenary indulgence. Here are some photos of a few of the better ones. (The Italians traditionally put a lot of lights around the Altars, making things more difficult for a very amateur photographer like myself.) One of the things I like best about this custom is that one also sees a huge number of pilgrims from various nations participating in this; the Italian newspapers say that there are a quarter as many more pilgrims in Rome this year for the first Holy Week of a new Pope. I ran into a group of American students from Notre Dame, and of course heard a great deal more Spanish being spoken than usual. It is a true grace to see the Universal Church keep watch and pray with the Lord on the night of His Last Supper. Trinità dei Pellegrini, the Fraternity of St. Peter’s Roman Parish, before the Procession with the Blessed Sacrament.
and after
San Lorenzo in Damaso
Santa Maria Maddalena, the church of the Camillian Fathers (Order of the Ministers of the Sick)


Santa Maria in Vallicella, popularly known as the “Chiesa Nuova - the New Church”, the Roman Oratory.

The Paschal moon competes with the lights of the city to be seen in the piazza outside Chiesa Nuova.

Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, the former Carthusian monastery church of Rome, in the Piazza della Repubblica.

The same altar seen at a distance from the cavernous nave designed by Michelangelo.
San Martino ai Monti, one of the oldest parishes in Rome, originally a house church founded in the third century; now home of the generalate of the Carmelites of the Old Observance.
Santa Maria in Domnica, an ancient diaconia, i.e. church originally administered by a deacon as a center for charitable works, first built in the 5th century.
The table of the Plashchanitsya in the church of the Pontifical Russian College, or “Russicum”, which is dedicated to Saint Anthony the Abbot. Not of course a Sacrament Altar, but often mistakenly venerated as such by pilgrims unfamiliar with the Byzantine liturgy.
The same set up earlier in the day in preparation for the Matins of the Twelve Gospels.

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