Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2018 (Part 1)

Lent is upon us, and so it is time once again for the daily pilgrimages to the station churches in Rome. This will be the fifth year in which our friend Agnese shares with us the photos which she takes during the processions and Masses which are organized at the stations every evening by the Vicariate of Rome. Once again, we wish to express our gratitude to her for enabling our readers to follow along with this beautiful and ancient custom of the Holy See of St Peter.

I have titled this post “Roman Pilgrims” in the plural, since this year, we will have another pilgrim joining Agnese. Fr Alek Schrenk, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is currently studying in Rome at the North American College. For many years now, the students, clergy and staff of the NAC have followed the Lenten stational observance by celebrating a Mass in the various churches in the morning. This often involves getting up even earlier than they normally do; weather and time permitting, many of them walk to the station from the college up on the Janiculum. Fr Schrenk has been taking photos during these visits, and also very kindly agreed to share them with us. He has shared some things with us before, and you can see more of his excellent work at his blog Echi Romani. (Some of his photos are taken at the same church on other occasions; you should be able to tell the difference between his photographic style and Agnese’s fairly easily.)

Since we have two sets of photos to publish from each station, we will probably do more posts this Lent, and fewer churches per post. So, without further ado...

Thursday after Ash Wednesday - San Giorgio in Velabro
His Eminence Gianfranco Cardinal Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology. He holds the cardinalitial title of this church in the illustrious company of (among many others) Bl. John Henry Newman; his predecessor in the title was Alphonse Card. Stickler. 
From Fr Alek: the apsidal mosaic by Pietro Cavallini, late 13th century, with Christ, the Virgin Mary and St Peter closer to him on either side; on the left, St George, to whom the church is dedicated, and on the right St Theordore, to whom is dedicated a very small church close by, which is now run by the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Italy.
 Friday after Ash Wednesday - Ss John and Paul
Procession outside the basilica before Mass. The dome seen in the middle of this photo 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 place of the martyrdom of Ss John and Paul within their own house.” In 1887, a member of the Passionist community, Fr Germanus of St Stanislaus, began to dig under the church, hoping to identify the precise spot of the martyrs’ burial. His excavation led to the discovery of a complex of twenty rooms, from several different periods (late-1st to mid-5th centuries), which can now be visited by the public.
From Fr Alek: statues of the martyred brothers on the beautifully decorated wooden ceiling, with the words “truly brothers”, a reference to the Collect of their Mass. “We ask, almighty God, that the doubling rejoicing of today’s festivity may take hold of us, which comes from the glorification of the blessed John and Paul, whom the same faith and suffering made to be truly brothers.”
Vestments laid out on the sacristy cupboard where the relics of the Saints are kept; the admonition to silence commonly seen in Roman sacristies is honored in the breach far more than in the observance.
Saturday after Ash Wednesday - St Augustine
In the Roman Missal, the Station is listed at a church called St Trypho, which was demolished in 1595. The relics of Trypho and his companions, Respicius and Nympha, were transferred along with the Lenten Station to the nearby church of St Augustine.  
The First Sunday of Lent - St John in the Lateran
As those who follow the series every year have seen, Agnese has caught many wonderful pictures of the processions as they pass though the cloisters of the various churches. Here we can just see a priest in violet though the last window on the right. 
From Fr Alek: the imposing façade of the church, added to it by Alessandro Galilei (a relative of Galileo) in 1733-36. (The NAC does not do the Sunday stations, but Fr Alek did visit the basilica on the day, and take this photo; the rest are also his, included ars gratia artis.)
The mosaic of the apse, with the face of Christ surrounded by angels; the larger figures below are, from left to right, St Paul, St Peter, the Virgin Mary, St John the Baptist, St John the Evangelist, and St Andrew. On the left, St Francis, still very much a “new” Saint at the time this mosaic was designed at the end of the 13th century, is represented smaller than Peter and the Virgin, as is St Anthony of Padua on the right between the Saints John. The Pope who commissioned this, Nicholas IV, was of course a Franciscan, and is himself represented as a very tiny figure in red between St Francis and Virgin.
The tabernacle of the Sacrament altar at the end of the left transept.
The top of one of the columns of the baldachin over the high altar.

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