Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday, First Week of Lent: San Pietro in Vincoli

Preparing for Mass
During our year in Rome we were engaged in an apostolate that required us to be a work by 8:10 am. So needless to say, it was a challenge to squeeze on the right bus, and run down the right street. We soon caught on to the Italian idea of public transportation...if it looks full, push because there is always room for more. This helped us to arrive at our destination and return on time.

The Station Church today was a long treak for us up the Oppian Hill. After two buses, and a long walk, we arrived at the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli. (St. Peter in Chains) First used for Christian worship in the late fourth century, completed by Pope Sixtus III, it is named after the chains which bound St. Peter in prison in Jerusalem and in Rome. Around 450 AD, when the chains were brought from Jerusalem and placed with those from Rome, the two fused together. At the end of the fourth century, the church was rededicated when the relics of the Maccabee brothers were brought to the church. Throughout the coming centuries the church would undergo restorations by those who held the title. In the 1500’s Michangelo was commissioned to complete the tomb begun for Pope Julius II, who was eventually buried at St. Peter’s. His famous Moses, completed around 1545, can still be seen there. In the 1800's, a renovation of the sanctuary created a confessio before a new high altar, and the relics of St. Peter’s chains were placed there for veneration by the faithful. The sixteenth century apse depicts a fresco of a miracle in the 8th century, in which a crucifix of Christ bled when an image of the Christ was nailed to the Cross. Beneath this depiction are three images relating to the history of the chains; an angel coming to free St. Peter from prison, the Empress Eudoxia giving the chains from Jerusalem to the Pope, and the astonishment on the faces of the people who witnessed the miraculous joining of the two chains.

As we continue out Lenten journey, let us pray to St. Peter, who although his denied Our Lord, through weakness, he found strength in Christ to repent, and eventually witnessed by giving his life.

St. Peter's Chains displayed in the confessio

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