Tuesday of Week I of Lent
Just a 300-metre walk away from the tourist popular Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, the ancient Basilica of St. Anastasia was built at this spot in the late 3rd century. Later dedicated to the female martyr St. Anastasia in the 5th century, it was one of the first parishes in Rome. The church has undergone multiple restorations in its history. The present façade was restored in 1636 under the pontificate of Urban VIII after it was destroyed by a cyclone two years ago.
Starting with Pope Gregory the Great, popes celebrated three Christmas masses at three different churches: St. Mary Major, St. Anastasia and St. Peter. Mass was held in this basilica at dawn on December 25 because the Feast of St. Anastasia falls on the same day. This led to the three different liturgies (midnight, morning and daytime) that we still celebrate on Christmas day nowadays.
The basilica is the first church in Rome to practise Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. During the World Youth Day in the Great Jubilee Year, the church acted as a huge sacristy in which 700,000 sacred hosts were distributed to the crowd of young people in Circus Maximus next to the church.
Cardinal George Danneels, the former primate of Belgium, has been the Cardinal Protector of the titular church for nearly 30 years.