Thursday, March 04, 2021

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2021 (Part 3)

A friend of mine used to joke that half of the churches in Rome could be given the same name, “Our Lady of Perpetual Restoration”, which is funny precisely because it is so close to the truth. Every year we have run this series, we have had photos of churches which were under restoration, or photos of a church to which a station was transferred, since the regular station was completely unusable. In today’s post, the third of this year’s series, we have an example of the latter from this past Tuesday. Once again, many thanks to our dear Roman pilgrim friend Agnese for sharing these photos with us.
The Second Sunday of Lent – Santa Maria in Domnica
This church is sometimes called “Santa Maria alla Navicella – St Mary at the Little Boat” from the fountain in front of it, the upper basin of which is an ancient Roman sculpture of a boat. (“Navicella” is also used to mean an incense boat in Italian.) The fountain was built at the behest of Giovanni de’ Medici, who, according to the bad practice of his era, was made Cardinal Deacon of this church in 1489, when he was 13 years old. To be fair, he did do exactly as one would expect of a son of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and pay for a much-needed complete restoration of his titular church. Twenty-four years to the day after he was made a Cardinal, he was elected to the Papacy, the last man to be chosen for that office who was not yet a priest. He was ordained a priest on March 15, 1513, a bishop two days later, and crowned as Pope two days after that, taking the name Leo X. In 1521, he canonized St Casimir, prince of the kingdom of Poland and of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1458-84), whose feast is kept today, in response to a petition submitted to him by the Saint’s brother during the Fifth Lateran Council. 
As I described in a recent article, the apsidal mosaic was added to the church by Pope St Paschal I (817-24), as was that of St Cecilia, seen below, where the station is held on Wednesday of this week.

The customary procession with a relic held before the stational Mass begins.

Monday of the Second Week of Lent – St Clement
Introductory rites and procession held in the courtyard in front of the church.
It is a very old custom to strew greenery on the floors of churches during the station Masses; nobody seems to really know where this comes from or why it is done.
Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent - St Balbina
This year, the station was held at the nearby basilica of St Saba, since the church of St Balbina has been closed for restorations for at least two years.
Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent – St Cecilia in Trastevere
The church is home to a community of cloistered Benedictine nuns; here, one of the sisters, in keeping with an old Italian custom, brings out a thurible as the procession passes. (The thurible is swung back and forth, but not lifted up and swung at the procession as one does when incensing people at Mass.)
The famous statue of St Cecilia by Stefano Maderno, depicting her as her body was said to have been found when her tomb was opened in 1599.

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent – Santa Maria in Trastevere

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