Thursday, February 23, 2012

Friday after Ash Wednesday

The Station for today's Mass is the Church of Santi Giovanni E Paolo. Situated on Mt. Coelius, it was a residence that the Christian Senator Pammachius transformed into a parish church. (5th century) Six frescoes of that period represent the captivity and death of these two Roman soldiers of the Imperial Household, “Who in the same faith and the same martyrdom were truly united as brothers.”

Julian the Apostate ascended the throne in 360, Sts. John & Paul were forced with the decision either to embrace the pagan religion or face death. They choose Christ, and were executed in their own home and buried nearby.

Throughout the history of this sacred place, the church was renovated several times. In the late 1850's, the sacristy was added, as well as a large chapel dedicated to St. Paul of the Cross, who is buried there and is founder of the Passionist order which serves the basilica. From 1948 to 1950, a restoration/renovation was carried out by Cardinal Spellman of New York, who held the title to this church at that time. The facade was returned to its medieval appearance. The interior was also restored; among the additions were chandeliers that had previously hung in the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The basilica is a magnificent manuscript of architectural history, from Roman ruins that make up the foundation, to the modern chandeliers hanging in the nave.

The basilica is a must see if you ever travel to Rome, it serves as a wonderful reminder to the courage of these two martyrs who stood so steadfast in their faith. During Lent, let us cultivate an internal spirit of sacrifice which will show itself in works of mercy done for our neighbor in the name of Christ.

O Lord, grant me a spirit of sacrifice and mercy!
Frescoes of the Martyrdom of Sts. John and Paul

Outside the Basilica of Santi Giovanni E Paolo

Marks the place where the Saints were buried, beneath the Basilica

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