Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2023 (Part 5)

This annual series is now in its tenth year, but this is the very first time we have ever shown pictures of the station for Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent at the church of St Sixtus, since it was under restoration since before we began in 2014. This post also includes another first, pictures of the excavations under the church of St Lawrence ‘in Lucina’, the station of the following Friday. The first five pictures in this post (and one other) come from Agnese, the rest are from Jacob, as are the videos from his YouTube channel Crux Stationalis.
Wednesday of the Third Week of Lent – St Sixtus
This church was originally built at the very end of the fourth century, and known from its founder as the “title of Crescentiana.” By at least the mid-7th century, it had been renamed for St Sixtus II, the martyred Pope who is named in the Canon of the Mass, and figures prominently in the legendum of St Lawrence, since his relics had been moved here from the catacomb of Callixtus. A convent of Dominican nuns was established here within the lifetime of St Dominic, although they later moved; a new order of Dominican nuns has had it since the 1890s.
The stational liturgy began in the chapter hall off the cloister, the very room where St Dominic raised from the dead a young Roman nobleman named Napoleone Orsini, who had been thrown from a horse and trampled.

Thence began the usual procession through the cloister...
to the newly restored church.
“In this basilica, there rest the bodies of these holy martyrs: first, blessed Pope Sixtus, Pope Felix, Pope Zephryrinus, Pope Antheros, Pope Lucius, Pope Soter, Pope Lucian; Soter, Calocerus and Parthenius, Julius the bishop, Lucius the bishop, and Maximus, the martyr.” This church is located right across the street from the baths of Caracalla, and only a bit more than a half a mile away from a gate in the walls of Rome known as the Porta Ardeatina. From there, it is less than two miles to the catacombs of Callixtus, the original burial location of several of the person named in this inscription.
The refectory (picture by Agnese)
Thursday of the Third Week of Lent – Ss Cosmas and Damian
We have shown the mosaics in the apse of this church several times before; they were originally made in the 520s by Pope Felix III, but have been heavily restored more than once since then.
One of the side altars has this fresco of the crucifix known as the Holy Face of Lucca, housed in the cathedral of the Tuscan city of Lucca, and widely believed in the Middle Ages to have been carved by Nicodemus.
Friday of the Third Week of Lent – St Lawrence ‘in Lucina’
Since there are so many churches in Rome dedicated to St Lawrence (even more than to Ss Peter and Paul), they are traditionally distinguished by various epithets. This one is named for its founder and the original owner of the property, a woman named Lucina. The stational liturgy began within the excavations under the basilica, which include parts of what is believed to be her house, and the earlier version of the church, constructed in the 4th century. 
In this magnificent painting of the Crucifixion by Guido Reni (1575-1642), the body of Christ is pale and white against a much darker background. The effect is not so evident here because of the lighting, but normally, one can see the body of Christ raised above the altar at a distance, even standing outside the church in the piazza, a reminder of the Elevation of the Host during the Mass.
A relic of the chains with which St Lawrence was held while he was in prison...
and of his gridiron.
Saturday of the Third Week of Lent – St Susanna
This church has taken the place of St Sixtus as the new “Nostra Signora di Restauro Perpetuo – Our Lady of Perpetual Restoration.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) – Holy Cross ‘in Jerusalem’
Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent – The Four Crowned Martyrs

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