The practice of early Roman Christians of visiting the tombs of the martyrs became the Lenten “statio” of processing and gathering at a different church each day. This gives us the name “Stational church”
— Feria III post Dominicam primam — Statio ad S. Anastasiam —
The insertion of her name into the Roman Canon of the Mass towards the end of the 5th century, show that she then occupied a unique position among the saints publicly venerated at Rome. Thenceforth the church on the Palatine is known as “titulus sanctae Anastasiae”, and the martyr of Sirmium became the titular saint of the old 4th-century basilica. Evidently because of its position as titular church of the district including the imperial dwellings on the Palatine this church long maintained an eminent rank among the churches of Rome; only two churches preceded it in honour: St. John Lateran, the mother-church of Rome, and Santa Maria Maggiore. This ancient sanctuary stands today quite isolated amid the ruins of Rome. The commemoration of St. Anastasia in the second Mass on Christmas Day is the last remnant of the former prominence enjoyed by this saint and her church in the life of Christian Rome.
Rome never misses a chance to integrate its ancient history, secular and pagan, triumphant and Christian. Supposedly Constantine chose this site for the original 4th Century basilica because in ancient times here stood a shrine marking the home of Romulus and Remus, where a she-wolf raised them. The Legend goes: Romulus and Remus were abandoned in a basket on the Tiber River and the basket washed up by the Palatine Hill. A she-wolf nursed the two boys until a shepherd found them and raised them. The Legend continues, the brothers founded Rome in 753 BC; in a disagreement as to who would rule the city, Romulus killed his twin brother Remus and became the first king of Rome (named after Romulus). And so, on the site of Saint Anastasia this memorial of the raising of a child who would come to found and rule Rome points to the much greater birth in man’s history, of whose commemoration this Saint points to in the Church’s calendar (Christmas day). That is, the birth of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.
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