Seven Churches Walk
During Lent it has been a tradition at the Beda college to partake in a walk around Rome on the Wednesday of Holy Week. It is based on a tradition that goes back to St Phillip Neri around the year 1553 where he used to organize walking tours to churches usually outside the walls of Rome celebrate mass and have a picnic. This got refined to a walk around Rome that became know as the fifteen mile walk or the Seven churches walk. The churches include all the four main Papal basilicas and a few others as listed below. The idea is to visit them all in a day and say a prayer in each one. To do this we needed to have an early start a planed route a packed lunch and keep moving.
4. 1. St. Peter's Basilica
2. Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore
3. Basilica of St Lawrence Outside the Walls
4. Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem
5. Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano
6. Basilica of St Sebastian Outside the Walls
7. Basilica Papale San Paolo fuori le Mura
An early morning start 6:15 from Beda college on the metro to St Mary Major basilica for the station mass at 7 am. An unusually cold day for spring in Rome with temperature max only forecast for 12 deg. and possible showers for the day, I didn't check the forecast before I left and only had on my light travel pants and hoodie, but brought my plastic rain poncho just in case. We needed to keep moving.
I think the Mary Major is the most beautiful papal basilica in Rome out of the four fitting really.
Befor the mass the preist announced the the collection money for all the station masses in lent totaled about €5000, €2000 will go to the churches and €3000 to charity. Not bad for mainly seminarians and uni students.
A quick coffe and croissant and it was off to St Peter's a 4 kilometre trek across town heading west.
About an hour later we arrived at St Peter's square and remembered it was the Popes Wednes audience and could not get into the basilica till after it had finished at about ten. We did not have time to wait to then so we grabbed another espresso and headed back across town again to St Lawrence outside the wall.
Back over the Tiber, that is Castel St Micheal Archangel to the left. It si connected to the Vatican by a wall with an escape tunnel inside it for the Pope when Rome was under sige. Apparently it has been used by various popes over centuries. Initially commissioned by Emperor Hadrian in 355.
Past a woman clothed in the sun. A state of Our Lady in Piazza Spagna just down from the Trinty Di Monti church where I go for adoration on a Thursday nights. It was commissioned to celebrate the dogma of the immaculate conception proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1954.
About and hour and a half and 6 kilometers later we reached St Lawrence Outside the Wall, a half hour before midday closer.
Inside we encountered the end of a funeral service and had time to say a quick prayer before it closed. This church contained the remains of St Lawrence and St Steven both early church martyrs, their tombs are under the altar.
The next church we had to make was just down the road two kilometers Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem which closed at 12.45. This basilica claims to have the Relic of the Holy Cross on which Jesus was crucified on in Jerusalem and was brought back to Rome by St Helena, Emperor Constantine's mother in the early 300's.
The main altar, it was quite dark inside the church on the cloudy day.
Out the back of the main altar in the chapel of the Holy Cross relic. It is beleived that this is part of the cross that Jesus was crucified on in Jerusalem, and all the other churches with relics of the cross came from this piece.
In on the top shelf is a nail used in the crucifixion, a thorn from the crown of thorns, and a finger joint from St Thomas. The timber standing upright is from the cross of the good thief, the brass cross has fragments of the Holy Cross inside it. on the bottom shelf is the inscription that was nailed to the top of the cross "here is the king of the Jews".
Beside the chapel of the relics was a copy of the shroud of Turin.
It was then time for lunch and we walked through a park along the Aurelian wall which separated The Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem from St John Lateran.
The Aurelian wall looking back to The Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem.
Looking forward to St John Lateran, basilica.
Unfortunately my phone ran out of battery power and this was the last photo have of the day. From St John Lateran we moved out of the city to St Sebastian's basilica which is situated on the edge of the catacombs. The catacombs are ancient underground burial chambers and tunnels that the Christians would gather in to bury the dead and celebrate mass to avoid persecution, they stretch many kilometers underground. From St John Lateran to St Sebastian was another six kilometer trek, that took us out into park land and along a cobblestone hi-way which was once the main entry into Rome from the south east called the Via Apian Antica. There is a small church there that legend has it that when the persecutions of the Christians started in Rome under Nero, St Peter was leaving the city to preserve his life for the sake of the church when he passed Jesus going the other way and Peter said to Jesus 'Quo Vadis' where are you going? Jesus replied I'm going to Rome to be crucified again. At hearing this Peter then turned around and went back into Rome and the rest is history as they say. There is a marble stone there with two footprints in it that are said to be of Jesus when he stopped to talk to Peter.
After St Sabastian's basilica we made our way back to St Paul's Outside the Walls basilica another 3.5 kilometers, just across from the Beda college to finish our walk at about 5.00pm. We had covered about 23 kilometers in about 11 hours visited all the seven pilgrim churches plus about double that many more along the way, we prayed all four decades of the rosary along the way and countless more prayers in the churches, and thankfully we didn't get much more than a sprinkle of rain to dampen the spirits. That evening we were well and truly ready for bed and the start of the Easter Celebrations on Thursday. I pray you all have a Holy and Blessed Easter.