Ash Wednesday

During the next 40+ days of Lent before Easter, Romans gather at a designated church every day to strengthen the faith while honouring the holy martyrs of Rome. The pope in the past visited a church with the people every day, led them in prayer and celebrated Mass. Over time, a church and liturgical propers are specified for each day. The practice of visiting the stational churches was revitalized by Blessed Pope John XXIII.

I have been to Rome several times and am fortunate enough to have visited all the stational churches. As my Lenten exercise, I will upload some pictures of the station church each day. I hope you'll enjoy the spiritual pilgrimage and feel the same devotional spirit of the faithful in the eternal city.

Although no longer taking part in the station on each Lenten day, the pope has been participating in the devotion on Ash Wednesday. He starts off at the Basilica of St. Anselm, seat of the Abbot Primate of the Benedictine Confederation and the home of the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm. Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, former Major Penitentiary, is currently the Cardinal-Priest of Sant'Anselmo.

Next the pope joins the 300-metre procession in a mini-popemobile led by monks, priests and bishops, while the Litany of the Saints is sung, passing by the Church of Santa Maria del Priorato, seat of the Knights of Malta, and the fourth-century Basilica of Santi Boniface and Alexius. The destination is the Basilica of St. Sabina, the stational church of the day, where he presides in a Eucharistic celebration, blesses and imposes ash on the faithful gathered. (See the full video of the pope's visit earlier today.)

The basilica was originally built between AD 422-432, rebuilt in 834 and restored in 1914. Four saints are buried here, Pope Saint Alexander, Saint Eventius, Saint Theodulus and, of course, Saint Sabina, the Roman matron whose house became this majestic church. It is the headquarters of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in Rome, since Pope Honorious III ceded the basilica to St. Dominic in 1222. Many illustrious saints have lived in the adjacent monastery: Pope Saint Pius V, Saint Hyacinth and Saint Thomas Aquinas. Cardinal Jozef Tomko, Prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, has been the Cardinal-Priest of San Sabina since 1996 when he was promoted to the presbyteral order.

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
(Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.) 
– Genesis 3:19

Stational Churches in Rome
Week of Ash Wednesday: Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

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