Thursday, April 13, 2023

A Roman Pilgrim at the Station Churches 2023 (Part 8)

Before we continue with our Holy Week and Easter photoposts, today we finish off our annual series on the Roman stational churches of Lent. Thanks once again to our Roman pilgrim friends, Jacob Stein (the major contributor this year) and Agnese Bazzucchi - tanti auguri di buona Pascua, carissimi! Be sure to check out Jacob’s YouTube channel Crux Stationalis for more videos, including some of the exemplary Holy Week services at the FSSP church in Rome, Santissima Trinità dei Pellegrini.

Passion Friday – St Stephen on the Caelian Hill 
This basilica has the distinction of being the only round church built in Rome in antiquity, and is therefore often called “Santo Stefano Rotondo” in Italian, “round St Stephen’s.” The central rotunda was originally surrounded by two rings, but after many centuries of damage and neglect, the outer ring was demolished in the 1140s. (The Pantheon was dedicated as a church to the Virgin Mary at the beginning of the 7th century, and was often called “Santa Maria Rotonda”, but was not, of course, originally built as a church.) 
In the 1580s, the painter Niccolò Circignani, generally known by the nickname Pomarancio, was commissioned to decorate the inside of the exterior wall with frescoes of early martyrdoms. These were intended as a response to the conceits of the so-called reformers of the age that the Church had abandoned and corrupted the Faith, a statement that all the martyrs witnessed to the same beliefs within the same Church established by Christ, an image of whose Crucifixion begins the series. It has to be said that many of the depictions are disturbingly violent, and the work as a whole has been the object of much criticism.
This weirdly enormous wooden tabernacle was placed on the altar in 1613, but later removed during one of the church’s innumerable restorations. 
A side chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Sorrows; the Friday of Passion week used to also be the day of the original Roman feast in honor of this devotion
Passion Saturday – St John at the Latin Gate
This church has suffered much from neglect, and from unhappy modern interventions that unnecessarily removed some of its later interior decorations. In the post-Conciliar Rite, the evening Mass is the vigil Mass of Palm Sunday, hence the red vestments.
Holy Monday – St Praxedes
The stational observance begins in the courtyard outside the church. 
See this post from two years ago for more of the basilica’s beautiful 9th century mosaics:
A view into the chapel of St Zeno, built by Pope St Paschal I (817-24) as a mausoleum for his mother Theodora. The object seen in the reliquary is traditionally believed to be a piece of the column of Our Lord’s scourging.
Holy Tuesday – St Prisca
Despite its tremendous antiquity (perhaps going back to the early 2nd century) this church also suffered much from neglect in the Middle Ages, when the population of Rome was very low, and the Aventine hill on which it sits nearly abandoned. It has been remodeled more than once in modern times, but the interventions of the first part of the 20th century reduced it to a rather nondescript state. Appropriately for its one appearance on the list of Roman stations, the walls are decorated with frescos of angels holding the instruments of the Passion.

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