Station Churches of Rome

Continuing visits to the Lenten Station churches: the 2nd week of Lent.

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Sunday: Santa Maria in Domenica. Notice the small marble ship that forms a fountain in the piazza in front.
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The current church dates from the 8-9th century, and was renovated in the 16th century with Raphael as the architect.
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The beautiful mosaic date back to Pope Paschal I in the 9th century (notice him kneeling - the square halo means he was alive when the mosaic was made). This was the first time in art history that Mary occupied the central position.
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Monday: San Clemente, dedicated to the 4th Pope: St. Clement (91-101 AD). There are 4 levels: the current, 12th century church. Below, a 4th century church build during the reign of Constantine, and below that a first century oratory, where Clement himself probably celebrated Mass, on top of some Roman ruins.
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This mosaic is 9 centuries old, inspired by the words of Christ: "I am the true vine", it shows the vine bearing images symbolizing the living Church, with its roots in the Garden of Paradise, and its fruit: the Cross of Christ.
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A side chapel dedicated to St. Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavic peoples, who brought St. Clement's relics back to Rome (he was martyred while in exile). St. Cyril's remains are in the church below.
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Tuesday: Approaching the ancient church of St. Balbina, erected by Pope St. Mark in 336.
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The portico and campanile are dating from the 10th or 11th century
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Legend says that it was in this Church that Pope Sylvester and Constantine parted company as Constantine moved the seat of the empire to Constantinople.
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St. Balbina was a virgin, whose father was a tribune, St. Quirinus, both of whom are in the jasper urn under the altar. Notice the fine episcopal throne also.
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Apse painting
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Wednesday: St. Cecilia in Trastevere. Originally built on the house of her husband Valerian, her relics were transferred here from the Catacomb of St. Callistus in 821 by Pope Pascal I.
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High altar and baldachino. Notice the mosaic above in the apse. On the left is Pope Paschal holding the church (again, he has a square halo), next to St. Cecilia. Peter & Paul are on each side of the Redeemer, and St. Agatha is on the right.
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When the tomb of St. Cecilia was opened in 1599, her body was incorrupt, so the artist Stefano Maderno made this marble statue, testifying that she is depicted just as he saw her. (Notice the mark where she was struck in the neck with a sword, yet it is said she still lived for 3 days.) She died with 3 fingers outstretched on her right hand, expressing her belief in the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, and two on he left hand, signifying the Divine and Human Natures of Christ.
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The ceiling depiction of the crowning of St. Cecilia as she joins the Church triumphant. It is said she sang hymns during her tortures, which is why she is the patroness of music.
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Thursday: Santa Maria in Trastevere. Certainly one of the oldest churches in the city, and probably the first place Mass was celebrated openly, in a house-church founded here about 220 AD by Pope St. Callistus I. (The portico and fountain were rebuilt about 1700.)
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Much of the interior dates from the 12th century and Pope Innocent II.
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In the mosaic Christ crowns Our Lady while she gives a blessing. To the left are Pope Innocent II (holding the church), Sts. Lawrence and Pope Callistus. To the Right are Sts. Peter, Popes Cornelius and Julius, and St. Calepolidus (the relics of these 3 being under the altar, along with Callistus).
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Friday: St. Vitalis, dedicated to an early martyr, probably a soldier from the second century near Milan.
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The finely carved door wooden doors show fine 17th century craftsmanship. The custom floormat to San Vitale is more recent.
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The 4-5th century oratory had to be completely rebuilt in 1475, but some parts of the apse belonged to the original structure.
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Detail of the apse painting of Christ's fall on the Way of the Cross.
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Saturday: Approaching Sts. Macellinus and Peter, two members of the clergy martyred under the reign of Diocletian. Notice the lovely stepped dome.
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Constantine originally built a church over their tomb, but after 13th renovations and a reconstruction in the 18th century, nothing of the ancient basilica can be seen.
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The painting above the high altar shows how Peter and Marcellinus were taken out into the woods where they were beheaded. They are still remembered in the Roman Canon of the Mass. (Their relics are now in Seligenstadt, Germany)
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The chapel of the Crucifix, said to be miraculous.

Click on an image to see the full size picture.

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