The Station Churches of Rome

The Week of Ash Wednesday

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Ash Wednesday: Santa Sabina, on the Aventine hill, a 5th century Church dedicated to St. Sabina, a martyr of the 1st or 2nd century. Pope St. Gregory made it Lenten Station for Ash Wednesday after he sought refuge here during a great plague.
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The Dominicans, here beginning morning prayer, have inhabited this Church and Monastery since the 13th century, meaning St. Dominic, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Pope St. Pius V were former residents.
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The finely carved wooden doors are from the 5th century (1600 years old - very rare for a wooden object!)
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Next to Santa Sabina, there is the famous keyhole which you look though and can see St. Peter's. (Use you imagination.)
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Thursday: Approaching the second station, St. Giorgio in Velabro, one passes the massive Arch of Janus.
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Named after St. George, the 'dragon slayer' this ancient Church was originally dedicated to St. Sebastian.
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The high altar in St. Giorgio. Note the 13th century fresco in the apse, with Mary on Christ's right, and Peter and Sebastian on his left.
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Friday: Sts. John and Paul on the Coelian hill, named after two brothers who were officers in the Roman Imperial court, beheaded on June 26, 362 for refusing to renounce their faith.
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Originally built in 398 over the Saint's house (which is still there - remarkably preserved - excavated in 1887). Today the Church hold the relics of over a dozen different martyrs. It is also the titular Church of the Cardinals from New York. (Notice the chandeliers given by Cardinal Spellman.)
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In a side chapel of St. John and Paul (look below the altar) are the relics of St. Paul of the Cross (18th century founder of the Passionists.)
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A ceiling painting of St. Paul of the Cross in the sacristy.
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Saturday: St. Augustine's, formerly named for St. Tryphon, a boy martyred in the 3rd century persecution of Decius, whose relics are under the high altar. The relics of St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine are also here.
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There is an ancient Byzantine Madonna above the high altar, said to be made by St. Luke himself, brought here from Constantinople in 1453.
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The current reconstruction of the Church dates form the 18th century and is the first Renaissance Church in Rome. The high altar and angels decorating the Church are by Bernini.
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Sunday: St. John Lateran Originally dedicated to the Holy Savior in the 4th century (notice the Christo Salvatori near the top), this Basilicas was later dedicated to St. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the 10th and 12th centuries.
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Called the head and mother of all Churches, it is the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome (the Pope!), as the Popes lived here from the 4th to the 14th centuries.
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This is the "papal altar" - not because only the pope uses it - but because it contains a wooden altar used by St. Peter and the early Popes. The heads of Sts. Peter and Paul are behind the grill above the altar.
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This obelisk behind the Basilica, near the Baptistery, is said to be 3500 years old, which means Moses may have seen this standing in Egypt!

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