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 V post Dominicam Secundam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Mariam trans Tiberim —
A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217–222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers, saying, according to the Liber Pontificalis “I prefer that it should belong to those who honor God, whatever be their form of worship.” In 340, when Pope Julius I (337–352) rebuilt the titulus Callixti on a larger scale, it became the titulus Iulii in commemoration of his patronage and one of the original 25 parishes in Rome.
It was at this Church where Saint Paul of the Cross preached his last mission. He for years had not preached a mission on account of his health. He was commissioned by the congregation which organized the parish missions throughout the city of Rome. It was organized in a different fashion than we think of it now. Parishes didn’t request mission priests to come and preach, rather mission priests such as Passionists and Redemptorists were assigned to preach missions.
In this case with Saint Paul of the Cross, he preached the mission in the piazza in front of the Church. People of all states of life gathered in the piazza: Cardinals, Bishops, priests, the faithful, one can even imagine, the people passing by stopping to listen. He brought all present to tears with his words, full of love for the Passion of Christ, love for Jesus Crucified.
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