Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches - Part 7

Monday of the Third Week of Lent - Saint Mark
This basilica was originally built in honor of Saint Mark the Evangelist by the only Pope of the same name, who ruled for 10 months in the year 336. Because St Mark is the Patron Saint of Venice, it has often been given as the cardinalitial title to the Patriarchs of Venice; 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.

The Mass was the vigil Mass of the feast of the Annunciation, rather than the feria of Lent; hence the white vestments.

Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent - Saint Pudentiana
Like the church of San Vitale which we saw last week, 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 images 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.

The staircase by which one descends to the modern level of the church.

Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent - Saint Sixtus
The Church of Saint Sixtus (San Sisto Vecchio) is currently undergoing a major and much-needed renovation, and the Stational observances were held this year across the street at Saints Nereus and Achilleus, formerly the Station on Holy Monday. (I have explained the church’s other name, “Titulus Fasciolae - the title of the bandage”, in an article on the Stations of Holy Week.)

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