Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2019 (Part 1)

Lent is upon us, and once again, many Catholics in Rome observe the season with daily pilgrimages to the station churches. This will be the sixth year in which our friend Agnese shares with us the photos she takes during the processions and Masses organized at the stations each evening by the Vicariate of Rome; we thank her for giving our readers the opportunity 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, like last year, we will have a second pilgrim joining Agnese; Mr Jacob Stein, author of the blog PassioXP and a student at the Angelicum, is also sharing his photos of the stations with us. In fact, Agnese wound up missing the first several days due to a minor injury (now healed), so the photos in this post actually all come from Jacob. Agnese is back on her feet, and will rejoin us in the next post in this series.
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, comes each year to personally celebrated the station in his title church, which he holds in the illustrious company of (among many others) Bl. John Henry Newman; his predecessor in the title was Alphonse Card. Stickler.
Friday after Ash Wednesday - Ss John and Paul
Procession outside the church before Mass
“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 location 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.
The apsidal fresco of Christ in Glory added in 1588 by Pomarancio.
A fragmentary fresco of the 12th century behind the altar of the Blessed Sacrament.
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, and now repose in the high altar.
The First Sunday of Lent - St John in the Lateran
Those who follow the series every year have seen Agnese’s cleverly caught images of processions as they pass though the cloisters of the various churches. Good to see that Jacob is living up to the tradition!
Fragments of the ancient Papal throne from one of the many earlier versions of the church, now kept in the cloister.
Monday of the First Week of Lent - St Peter in Chains
In 1706, Giovanni Battista Parodi decorated the basilica’s ceiling with a fresco of a famous miracle attributed to the chains, which is also recounted in the breviary on the feast of St Peter’s Chains. A count of the Holy Roman Empire was possessed by an evil spirit which caused him to bite himself; when he accompanied the Emperor Otto II to Rome in 969, Pope John XIII placed the chain around his neck, at which the demon was expelled.
One of the most famous funerary monuments in Rome, that of Pope Julius II (1503-13), who was cardinal of this church for 32 years before his election as Pope. The statue of Moses in the middle of the lower register by Michelangelo was supposed to only one of over 40 that would decorate a gigantic tomb, proposed to be the principal decorative feature of the complete rebuilding of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
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, during the reign of 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.”

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