Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2022 (Part 5)

As always, we are very grateful to our Roman pilgrim friends, Agnese and Jacob, for sharing with us their photos and videos of the Lenten station churches.
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent – St Paul Outside the Walls
A statue of St Paul in the large courtyard in front of the church, holding the instrument of his beheading, which is also a reference to the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews, 4, 12 “For the word of God is living and effectual, and more piercing than any two edged sword; and reaching unto the division of the soul and the spirit, of the joints also and the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
A small church was originally built by the Emperor Constantine over the grave of St Paul in the early years of the Peace of the Church, but replaced by a magnificent basilica starting at the end of the 4th century, at the behest of the Emperor Theodosius, much more in keeping with the importance of the site, and far more capable of welcoming large groups of pilgrims. It was in fact even larger than the ancient basilica of St Peter. In July of 1823, it was destroyed by a fire which started accidentally in the roof, and burned for three days. It was rebuilt at the same size and general plan, starting in 1825, and consecrated by Bl Pius IX on December 10, 1854, two days after he made the formal definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

In front of the altar is a relic said to be the chain used on St Paul while he was held in prison in Rome; through the grill below can be seen his original burial site.    
Like all the patriarchal basilicas, this church has a very impressive collection of relics; here we see its piece of the True Cross.

Thursday of the Fourth Week – Ss Silvester and Martin (San Martino ai Monti)
The stational procession began in the piazza in front of the nearby basilica of St Peter in Chains, which is not, however, the traditional collect church for this day.
This church is home to the generalate of the Carmelite Order of the Ancient Observance; the inscription on the façade notes that it was built by the Prior General Francesco Scannapieco, who served in that role from 1674-76. In the 20th century, this church was the cardinalitial title of five archbishops of Milan in row: Achille Ratti, the future Pius XI (for less 8 months in 1921-22), Eugenio Tosi (1922-29), Bl. Ildephonse Schuster (1929-54), Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI (1958-63), and Giovanni Colombo (1965-92).
Friday of the Fourth Week – St Eusebius
The Gospel of this day’s Mass is John 11, 1-45, the raising of Lazarus, and this church was chosen as the station because of its proximity to a very ancient cemetery, which predates even the founding of Rome in the mid-8th century B.C.  
In the ceiling of the nave, the patron Saint of the church, a 4th-century Roman priest named Eusebius, is depicted in the glory of heaven, a work of the German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79). Eusebius is traditionally said to have been imprisoned in his own house, and to have died after seven months, for refusing to accept the Arian heresy. Above him is shown the Trinity, while below him, angels hold a copy of the Gospel of St John, and a banner with the words “consubstantial with the Father” in Greek. He is venerated as a Confessor in the original sense of that term, one who suffered for the Faith, but did not die by a direct act of violence.

Saturday of the Fourth Week – St Nicholas ‘in the Prison’
The title of this church derives from a very implausible legend that St Nicholas was imprisoned in the basement of one of the three small ancient Roman temples which form part of the structure, since, like St Eusebius, he refused to accept the Arian heresy. The building is very close to the Tiber, which regularly flooded into the city for most of its history; as we it see it today, it is the result of an almost complete rebuilding done at the very end of the 16th century.
Passion Sunday – St Peter’s Basilica
Passiontide begins with a return to St Peter’s Basilica, also the station of Quinquagesima Sunday and the Saturday Ember day, for the solemn exposition of the Veil of St Veronica.  

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