Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches

Meet Agnese, a friend of mine and fellow-parishoner at the FSSP’s Roman church, Trinità dei Pellegrini.
Piazza di Spagna on December 8 a few years ago, hoping to see Pope Benedict. The papal visit to the Piazza on the feast of the Immaculate Conception has become a sort of modern-day stational observance; every year, the Pope blesses a wreath of flowers to adorn the statue of the Virgin Mary on top of the nearby “Colonna dell’Immacolata.” The youngest member of the Roman fire-department is then brought up to the statue on a cherry-picker, removes last year’s wreath, and puts the newly blessed one in its place on the Virgin’s arm. In the end, the Piazza was too full for us to get anywhere near the column, and all we saw was a little bit of the Pope from behind and at a distance.
Agnese is a native of Rome who, like many Romans, is following the Lenten pilgrimage of the Station churches this year. She is happy to share with our readers her photographs of the churches themselves, the Masses and (in many cases) the processions that precede them; I plan on posting these two or three times a week, depending on how many she makes available. Over the years, we have published a large number of articles about the Station churches, which you easily can find by putting the words “Station churches” in the NLM search box on the top right of the page. If you don’t know what Station churches are, you might want to read this great article which Shawn posted in 2010, explaining their origin and significance.

Thursday after Ash Wednesday - San Giorgio in Velabro
Behind the little window under the altar sits a reliquary with a piece of the skull of St George. Because the titular Saint is the Patron of England, this church was given to Bl. John Henry Newman as his cardinalitial title by Pope Leo XIII in 1879; it was held by Cardinal Alfonse Maria Stickler from 1985 until his death in 2007.
Friday after Ash Wednesday - Saints John and Paul
Procession outside the basilica before Mass. The dome is not that of the main church, but of the large side-chapel where St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionist Order, is buried. St. Paul had a brother named Giovanni Battista (John the Baptist), himself now a Venerable, to whom he was very close, and who was instrumental in helping him found the order. Many years after the latter’s death, Pope Clement XIV (1769-74) gave the Basilica to St Paul to be the first “Retreat”, as the order’s houses are called, in Rome, in remembrance of his beloved brother, since the martyrs John and Paul were also brothers.
The fellow in black is a member of the Passionist Order.
Saturday after Ash Wednesday - Sant’Agostino
In the Roman Missal, the Station is listed at a church called St Trypho, which was in ruins and torn down in 1595. The relics of Ss Trypho and his companions, Respicius and Nympha, were transferred along with the Lenten Station to the nearby church of Saint Augustine.
First Sunday of Lent - Saint John in the Lateran
The Procession before Mass, beginning in the ancient cloister of Rome’s cathedral.  

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