Friday, February 23, 2018

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2018 (Part 2)

We continue our annual visit to the Lenten station churches in Rome with our friend Agnese, this year joined by Fr Alek Shrenck. In this post we see the famous relics of St Peter’s Chains at the stational church named for them, the basilica of St Mary Major with its customary set-up of reliquaries on the main altar, and part of the amazing relic collection of St Lawrence in Panisperna.

Monday of the First Week of Lent - St Peter in Chains
The station observance begins in the atrium...
...followed by the procession inside.
The veneration of a relic.
This reliquary contains the chain with which St Peter was kept prisoner in Rome under Nero, and another chain brought from the prison where he was kept by Herod in Jerusalem. Tradition holds that when the two chains were brought together in the mid-5th century, under Pope St Leo the Great, they were miraculously united as a single chain in such fashion that one could not tell where the one began and the other ended. A series of smaller links on the left side is from a chain that was used to hold St Paul. The church of Rome has always honored the two Apostles together as her co-founders; for this reason, one of the antiphons of their office reads, “The glorious princes of the earth; as they loved one another in their life, so also in death they were not separated.”
From Fr Alek, St Peter holding his keys, detail of the fresco on the ceiling of the church’s nave picted by Giovanni Battista Parodi, 1706.
The baldachin over the main altar, and the apse.
Tuesday of the First Week - Sant’ Anastasia
From Fr Alek: the stem of His Eminence Nuno da Cunha e Ataíde, Cardinal Priest of the church from 1721-50.
This is also the station for the second Mass of Christmas day, in honor of the titular martyr who shares the day of her birth into heaven with the day of Christ’s Birth into this world.
Ember Wednesday - Santa Maria Maggiore
Many of the station churches have a special display of relics on the day of the station; Santa Maria Maggiore, which is also the station for the Wednesday of Holy Week, has one of the nicest arrangements, set up on the high altar.
 The penitential procession passes though the basilica...
 ...out into the atrium and back in.
 From Fr Alek, the apsidal mosaic by Jacopo Torriti, 1303
On the counter-façade, Papal stems of Pope Clement VIII (1592-1605) in the middle, and Benedict XIV (1740-58); significant restorations were done to the church in both of their reigns.
Thursday of the First Week - San Lorenzo in Panisperna
 Special kudos to Agnese for this particular good photo of a reliquary on the altar of the church.
 From Fr Alek, a detail of the ceiling fresco of the nave.
 “The crueler his martyrdom, the more glorious Lawrence’s triumph.”

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