|Inside the Catacomb of Domitila|
|The Church inside the Catacomb.|
Following our visit to the Catacomb, we visited the other 3 Papal Basilicas (as they are called): St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, and St. John Lateran. Each has a unique history and connection to our faith. You can read about each of the places we visited today below.
When we finished visiting the churches, we had some time, so we arranged to stop once more near St. Peter's Basilica to explore a bit more (because we were rushed yesterday because of a scheduled Mass and the crowds visiting the Vatican Museum and the Basilica. So we had some extra time today to visit. We then met once again to walk back to the hotel for dinner - but stopped for ice cream (gelato) on the way home - and they insisted that I include this picture... and it was DELICIOUS!
Here are some other photos from today:
|inside the church of St. Mary Major|
|Our group outside the Lateran Basilica - the Cathedral Church |
of Rome and the entire world.
|Inside the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls|
St. Paul Outside the Walls:
Tour St. Paul's with us here:
At the beginning of the 4th century, with the end of the persecutions and the promulgation of the Edicts of Tolerance in favour of Christianity, Emperor Constantine ordered the excavation of the cella memoriae, the place where Christians venerated the memory of Saint Paul the Apostle, beheaded under Nero around 65-67 A.D. Above his grave, located along the Ostiense Way, about two kilometers outside the Aurelian Walls surrounding Rome, Constantine built a Basilica which was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324.
Between 384 and 395 the Basilica, under the emperors Theodosius, Valentinian II and Arcadius, was restored and enlarged according to an extensive project consisting of five naves opening out into an atrium (quadriportico), or courtyard with four rows of columns. Throughout the centuries the Basilica would not cease to be embellished and enhanced by the Popes. For example, the massive defensive wall was built to protect against invasions at the end of the ninth century, while the bell tower and the magnificent Byzantine door were constructed in the eleventh century. Other important additions include Pietro Cavallini’s mosaics in the façade, the beautiful Vassalletto family’s cloister, Arnolfo di Cambio’s celebrated Gothic baldachin and the Candelabrum for the Paschal candle attributed to Nicola d’Angelo and Pietro Vassalletto of the thirteenth century. This historical period represents the golden age of what had been the biggest Basilica of Rome, until the consecration of the new Basilica of St. Peter in 1626. This sacred place of Christian pilgrimage was well-known for its artistic works.
On the night of July 15, 1823, a fire destroyed this unique testimony to the Paleo-Christian, Byzantine, Renaissance and Baroque periods. The Basilica was reconstructed identically to what it had been before, utilizing all the elements which had survived the fire. In 1840 Pope Gregory XVI consecrated the Altar of the Confession and the Transept.
Other embellishments followed the reconstruction. In 1928 the portico with 150 columns was added. Contemporary work in the Basilica has uncovered the tomb of the Apostle, while other important and beneficial works are carried out, as in the past, thanks to the generosity of Christians from all over the world.
In the fifth century under the Pontificate of Leo the Great, the Basilica became the home of a long series of medallions which would to this day depict all the popes throughout history. This testifies, in an extraordinary way, to “the very great, the very ancient and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul” (Saint Irenaeus, Adversus Haereses 3, 3,2).
Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls constitutes an extra-territorial complex (Motu Proprio by Pope Benedict XVI, 30 May 2005), administered by an Archpriest.
In addition to the Papal Basilica, the entire complex includes a very ancient Benedictine Abbey, restored by Odon of Cluny in 936. This Abbey remains active even today under the direction of its Abbot who retains his ordinary jurisdiction intra septa monasterii. The Benedictine Monks of the ancient Abbey, founded near the tomb of the Apostle by Pope Gregory II (715-731), attend to the ministry of Reconciliation (or Penance) and the promotion of special ecumenical events.
It is in this Basilica that every year on the feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, January 25, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity solemnly opens. The Pope has specified two privileged tasks for this Papal Basilica: the Sacrament of Reconciliation (or Penance) and the development and organization of ecumenical initiatives.
On June 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI visited the Basilica and announced that the following year would be designated the “Pauline Year” to commemorate the bimillennium of the birth of Saint Paul. Thus, the “Pauline Year” was run from June 28, 2008 to June 29, 2009.
Saint Mary Major:
If you'd like to do a "virtual tour" with us: go here: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/sm_maggiore/vr_tour/index-en.html
First raised at the order of Pope Liberius in the mid-fourth century, the Liberian basilica was rebuilt by Pope Sixtus III shortly after the Council of Ephesus affirmed Mary’s title as Mother of God in 431. Rededicated at that time to the Mother of God, St. Mary Major is the largest church in the world honoring God through Mary. Standing atop one of Rome’s seven hills, the Esquiline, it has survived many restorations without losing its character as an early Roman basilica. Its interior retains three naves divided by colonnades in the style of Constantine’s era. Fifth-century mosaics on its walls testify to its antiquity.
St. Mary Major is one of the four Roman basilicas known as patriarchal cathedrals in memory of the first centers of the Church. St. John Lateran (November 9) represents Rome, the See of Peter; St. Paul Outside the Walls, the See of Alexandria, allegedly the see presided over by Mark (April 25); St. Peter’s, the See of Constantinople; and St. Mary’s, the See of Antioch, where Mary is supposed to have spent most of her life.
One legend, unreported before the year 1000, gives another name to this feast: Our Lady of the Snows. According to that story, a wealthy Roman couple pledged their fortune to the Mother of God. In affirmation, she produced a miraculous summer snowfall and told them to build a church on the site. The legend was long celebrated by releasing a shower of white rose petals from the basilica’s dome every August 5.
St. John Lateran:
And again, here is another virtual tour: http://www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/index-en.html
It was to Pope Melchiade (311-314) that Constantine gave the palace on Monte Celio, formerly property of the patrician Laterani family (hence the basilica's appellation "Lateran"), which his second wife Fausta (Maxentius' sister) had brought to the marriage. Soon after, the Emperor razed the adjoining imperial horse-guards barracks (allegedly the equites singulares had supported Maxentius against Constantine) and commissioned the construction of the world's first Christian basilica on that site.
Henceforth, the Lateran palace, known as the Patriarchate, was the Pope's official residence until the fifteenth century. The basilica, consecrated in 324 by Melchiade's successor, Pope Sylvester I (314-335), was dedicated, by will of the Emperor, to Christ the Savior. In the tenth century, Pope Sergio III (904-911) added St. John the Baptist, and in the twelfth century, Pope Lucius (1144- 1145), St. John the Evangelist, to the basilica's dedication.
In the course of its history, St. John Lateran suffered just about as many disasters and revivals as the papacy it hosted. Sacked by Alaric in 408 and Genseric in 455, it was rebuilt by Pope Leo the Great (440-461), and centuries later by Pope Hadrian I (772-795). Almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 896, the basilica was again restored by Pope Sergius III (904-911). Later the church was heavily damaged by fires in 1308 and 1360.
When the Popes returned from their sojourn in Avignon, France (1304-1377), they found their basilica and palace in such disrepair, that they decided to transfer to the Vatican, near St. Peter's. (That basilica, also built by Constantine, had until then served primarily as a pilgrimage church.)
Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590), in one of his frenzied urban renewal projects, tore down St. JohnLateran's original buildings, replacing them with late-Renaissance structures by his favorite architect Domenico Fontana. Later, Pope Innocent X (1644-1655) engaged one of the Baroque's most brilliant architects, Francesco Borromini, to transform St. John Lateran's interior in time for the Jubilee of 1650. Finally, Pope Clement XII (17301740) launched a competition for the design of a new facade, which was completed by Alessandro Galilei in 1735.
Of the original Lateran basilica and palace, only the Popes' private chapel, the Sancta Sanctorum (See Inside the Vatican, August-September 1995) remains. Sixtus V removed this magnificently-frescoed shrine to what has become a grimy traffic island. As an approach to the chapel, Sixtus moved from the Lateran Palace the Scala Santa, the stair case which Jesus is believed to have ascended to Pontius Pilate's palace in Jerusalem, and according to tradition, was brought to Rome by St. Helena herself.
Many important historic events have taken place in St. John Lateran, including 5 Ecumenical Councils and many diocesan synods. In 1929 the Lateran Pacts, which established the territory and status of the State of Vatican City, were signed here between the Holy See and the Government of Italy.
The offices of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome now occupy the Lateran Palace. On July 27, 1992, a bomb explosion devastated the facade of the Rome Vicariate at St. John Lateran. The attack is widely assumed to have been the work of the Italian Mafia, a warning against Pope John Paul II's frequent anti-Mafia statements. Repairs were recently completed, in January 1996.
The Popes now reside at the Vatican, and since the fifteenth century, St. Peter's Basilica has hosted most important papal ceremonies. Every year, until this year, The Papal custom has been that during the Holy Thursday Liturgy, celebrated at the Lateran Basilica, the Holy Father symbolically washes the feet of priests chosen from various parts of the world.