Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2019 (Part 6)

Before we begin the solemn rites of the Triduum, we have to finish up our series of pictures of the Lenten station churches in Rome, which our favorite Roman pilgrim, Agnese Bazzuchi, has so kindly shared with our readers for several years in a row. Grazie mille, carissima!

Wednesday of Passion Week - San Marcello al Corso
This church is dedicated to a Pope who was martyred in the early 4th century, Marcellus I, built over the filthy stables where he was condemned to labor by the Emperor Maxentius; his relics are under the high altar. The church burned down in 1519, and was rebuilt in the opposite orientation from that of the original structure.
Friday of Passion Week - Santo Stefano Rotondo
This church has the peculiar name of “Round St Stephen’s” because it was the only round church built in Rome in antiquity. (The Pantheon is also round, and as a church was also known as “Round St Mary’s”, but was not of course originally built as a church.) The building originally had three rings, but the outermost was removed in a 12th-century restoration.
The evening Masses at the Lenten Stations are organized by the diocese of Rome and the Pontifical Commission for the Cult of the Martyrs. This is an especially important station for the latter group, since the walls of the church, which goes back to the fifth-century, were painted in the later 16-century with vivid (too vivid, in the opinion of many), depictions of early Christian martyrdoms. On the right is seen an elaborately carved wooden tabernacle, formerly placed on the high altar.
Saturday of Passion Week - St John at the Latin Gate
The building seen in the first photo is not St John at the Latin Gate, but a small oratory next to it known as St John “in oleo - in the oil.” According to a tradition known to Tertullian, and repeated by St Jerome, St John the Evangelist came to Rome some time after the death of Ss Peter and Paul; under the Emperor Domitian, he was boiled in a pot of oil, but emerged from it not only unscathed, but healthier than he had been. He was then banished to the Greek island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse; a feast commemorating this attempted martyrdom of the Apostle was on the general Calendar until 1960. The oratory is said to be on the very spot where the pot of oil was set up; it is attributed to Donatello Bramante, the original architect in charge of rebuilding St Peter’s Basilica in the early 16th-century. (The vestments are red since this is now the vigil Mass of Palm Sunday in the new rite.)

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