Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Roman Pilgrims at the Station Churches 2023 (Part 6)

Once again, our thanks to Jacob and Agnese for sharing their photos of the Lenten Station churches in Rome.

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent – St Lawrence “in Damaso”
Since there are so many churches in Rome dedicated to St Lawrence (more, in fact, than to either St Peter or St Paul), they are distinguished by various nicknames; this one is named for its founder, Pope St Damasus I (366-84). The chancery building of the Roman Curia, constructed between 1489 and 1513, encloses it on two sides and above, so the procession before Mass is held in its courtyard.
Kudos to Jacob for these two particular good shots of the courtyard!
Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent – St Paul Outside-the-Walls
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. The baldachin over the high altar was made in 1285 by Arnolfo di Cambio, more famous as the first architect of the cathedral of Florence. When the ancient church of St Paul burnt down in 1823, this was one of the very few parts of it that survived.

This enormous holder for the Paschal candle was carved by two sculptors, Nicolò di Angelo and Pietro Vassaletto, around the turn of the 13th century.

The entablature beneath the clerestory windows is famously decorated with these mosaics portraits of all the Popes.

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent – Ss Silvester and Martin
The stational liturgy begins outside the near-by basilica of St Peter in Chains, even though this is not the traditional collect church for this day. The first three, fifth and sixth photos of this set are by Agnese.

The walls of the basilica are painted with frescos of major councils held in the churches of Rome, which, although they are not in very good condition, are nevertheless a precious record of what some of the churches looked like before later restorations.

The large subterranean spaces under the basilica are opened for the station day; these include the partial ruins of a house-church of the 3rd century known from its founder as the “title of Equitius”, one of the oldest in the city.

“Remember that God see you!”
Bare ruins of decoration from an earlier iteration of the church.
Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent – St Eusebius
This church on the Esquiline hill was originally built within the house of its titular Saint, a Roman priest who was imprisoned therein for his refusal to accept the Arian heresy, and died after seven months. It was chosen as the station for this day because of its proximity to an extremely old cemetery, (older, in fact, than Rome itself), since the day’s Gospel is that of the raising of Lazarus.

This painting on the ceiling of the nave, 1757, by the German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-79), shows St Eusebius in the Glory of Heaven. 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 of Lent – St Nicholas “in Prison”
This church’s name 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.

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