Third Week of Lent: Station Churches

More from Sunday’s Station Church:

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— Feria II post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Marcum —

San Marco is a minor basilica in Rome dedicated to St. Mark the Evangelist located in the small Piazza di San Marco adjoining Piazza Venezia. It was first built in 336 by Pope Mark, whose remains are in an urn located below the main altar. The basilica is the national church of Venice in Rome.

Apse mosaic and side altar:

— Feria III post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Pudentianam —

The apse mosaic is remarkable for its iconography. Christ is represented as a human figure rather than as a symbol, such as lamb or the good shepherd, as he was in very early Christian images. The regal nature of this representation prefigures the majestic bearing of Christ as depicted in Byzantine mosaics. Christ sits on a jewel encrusted throne, wearing a golden toga with a purple trim (a sign of imperial authority and emphasizing the authority of Christ and his church). He poses as a classical Roman teacher with his right hand extended. Christ wears a halo and holds in his left hand the text: “Dominus conservator ecclesiae Pudentianae” (The Lord is the preserver of the church of Pudenziana). He sits among his apostles, two of which were removed during restoration. The apostles wear senatorial togas. They all have individual expressions and face the spectator. The lower part of the mosaic was removed during the restoration in the late 16th century. The mosaics of the apostles on the right side have been lost in the course of time and are replaced by new, but rather blank, mosaics. Two female figures (representing “Church” and “Synagogue”) hold a wreath above the head of St. Peter and Paul. Above them the roofs and domes of heavenly Jerusalem (or, in another interpretation, the churches built by the emperor Constantine in Jerusalem) are depicted. Above Christ stands a large jewel encrusted cross on a hill (Calvary), as a sign of the triumph of Christ, amidst the Christian symbols of the Four Evangelists. These iconographic symbols (angel, lion, ox and eagle) are the oldest still existing representations of the Evangelists. You also see the early depictions of angels, the blue and red figures in the sky.

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— Feria IV post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Xystum —

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Photo by my friend Agnese. Last year’s Mass at Saints Nereo e Achilleo.
Taken by a priest friend, Padre Nicola, C.O. Also of Santi Nereo e Achilleo.

— Feria V post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad Ss. Cosmam et Damianum —

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Photo by Agnese.

— Feria VI post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Laurentium in Lucina —

The other Guido Reni Crucifix, picture during the procession with the singing of the Litany of the Saints. I am in the photo somewhere.

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If one is fortunate, you can look into the Church from the Piazza and see the Corpus of Christ Crucified (by Guido Reni, the same who painted the Altarpiece at Ss.ma Trinita dei Pellegrini). In looking from afar at the above altarpiece, one is provoked to call to his mind the Blessed Sacrament, the elevation of the Host.

— Sabato post Dominicam Tertiam in Quadragesima — Statio ad S. Susannam —

The church of Santa Susanna in Rome is situated on the Via XX Settembre, just over the road from Santa Maria della Vittoria. The site has a titulus (an early church built around the edge of ancient Rome) that dates back to around 280. Like many early sites of Christian worship, Santa Susanna was originally a house belonging to Caius (Bishop of Rome at the time) and his brother Gabinus. Susanna was the daughter of Gabinus. She is identified as the patroness of the church.

Facade of Santa Susanna

There is a story that Susanna had taken a vow of chastity, and yet was being pursued by Maximianus Galerius, adopted son and heir of the Emperor Diocletian. Susanna refused his proposals and then subsequently also refused to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods. This proved too much for the authorities who had her beheaded in her own home.

Today the remains of the Roman building lie visible under a glass floor in Santa Susanna’s sacristy. They were discovered in 1830 during renovations to lay down a new marble floor. The walls, tiles and mosaics found here may well date back to the original domus of Susanna.

The current church underwent massive renovations around 1590’s under the permission of Pope Sixtus V. Work began in 1588, with the façade being completed in 1603. The interior is decorated with Six immense frescoes by Baldassare Croce on either side of the nave which depict the life of Susanna from the Old Testament. On the whole the church has a lighter feel than many in Rome. The striking façade was made in Baroque style by Carlo Maderno.

Interior of Santa Susanna

Saturday’s Station Mass is at S. Maria della Vittoria — Santa Susannam is closed to the public.

We are reminded especially on this day, the purpose of Lent, which is the purpose of the whole spiritual life, Divine Union! We find Bernini’s “Ecstasy of Teresa.” The ethereal face of the Saint highlights for us the PURITY of life that allows man to see God!

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