Updated: Mar 10
During lent there has been a tradition going back to the early church days in Rome to the 4 and 5 hundreds, to celebrate Mass at different churches around Rome know as the stations. This is similar to our tradition of the Station of the Cross, where we move from one station to the next. This tradition of the Station Mass has been revived now with great assistance from the North American College (NAC) seminary.
Every morning during Lent at 7 am mass is celebrated, and anyone is invited to attend .One of the churches that mass was celebrated, is near to our college is the church of St Anastasia, it is a church built in the 4th Century and dedicated to the Saint Anastasia. Not a lot is know about her, but it believed she was martyred by The Emperor of Rome, Diocletian in the early 300's. It is said she helped the imprisoned Christian's with food and drink but also is associated with alleviating ailments associated with poisoning. She is one of seven female saints included in the Canon of the mass and had a great veneration with Christian's in the 5th and 6th centuries. As one of my class mates said you don't get a basilica built in your honour just for being a nice guy or gal, she made quite an impact in her time.
The church itself is not directly related in anyway to Anastasia physically, not even her relics are here. It is believed that this church was funded by a patroness called Anastasia, and the dedicated to the saint with the same name, over a century later.
The church was quite prominent in the early centuries in Rome only behind the four major basilicas, although it has now lost that status and now it enjoys a quieter standing. It was the church where they used to burn the ashes and distribute them on Ash Wednesday which the then Pope would walk with the ashes to the basilica of Santa Sabina which is about 700 meters away to distribute them and open the Lenten season of penance.
A quick ride up on the Metro, which was jam packed at morning rush hour, and we arrived at Circo Massimo (Italian). The 'Circus Maximus' in Latin stands for the Largest Circus, built for chariot racing and mass entertainment, beast hunts, athletics and public execution's, most probably a lot of Christians. Think of the movie Ben Hur for an idea. The venue itself dates back to 500BC or earlier.
Over the other side of the Circo Massimo is The Palatine Hill, one of the oldest parts of Rome which backs onto the The Forum and the Colosseum. The ruins are of different emperors palaces which date back to 27 AD, Emperor Augusts was the first.
One end of the Circus where the chariot staring gates used to be, the building is public offices and town hall.
Looking back over the Circus, it is about 600 meters long and 150 meters wide.
Hiding behind some more modern building's just across the road is St Anastasias.
St Anastasia's basilica.
To my surprise when I arrived in the church I found that it was being celebrated by an Australian priest Fr Bijoy who is studying in Rome and was assisted by Deacon Richard, who served as deacon at Cardinal Pell's funeral and accolated by seminarian Steven from the NAC, all who are with the Sydney Arch Diocese. It was good to hear an Australian voice from the pulpit in Rome and after mass I caught up with them and said G'day, but time was short and we had to make a dash back to the Metro to catch our first lessons for the day. I will endeavor to get to another one or two Station mases before lent is over.
Managed to get to another Mass this one was at the Santi Apostoli minor basilica, dedicated to all twelve apostles it houses the relics of St James and St Philip.
The interior is quite impressive.
Under the altar is the tombs of St Philip and James.
The walk back to the Metro station this time on the back of the forum, which includes Il Vittoriano, a monument building to The first King of Italy Vittrio Emanuel II, or other wise know as the 'wedding cake' to the tourist's or the typewriter by the locals. Built in the early 1900's
The old temple of Venus and Roma. 135 AD
And the Closseum.
I also managed to get to Santa Maria in Trevesti mass, we went to this church last year as part of our seminary induction week for a Sunday mass.
The altar with mosaic aspe with Mary and Jesus. A big crowd at this mass with seminarians from the NAC and the VEC (the Venerable English College) and many young lay women probably due it's close proximity to the universities in town.