Thursday of Week II of Lent

The Basilica of St. Mary in Trastevere may be the first church in Rome to hold public Masses, before the time when Christianity was permitted by Emperor Constantine. Pope Callixtus I built this church in 220 (his relics can still be found in it), and was later martyred in this region. Pope Julius I enlarged this church in 340. The tower dates back to 1200, and the façade to 1702. This church is 600 metres away from the Basilica of St. Cecilia, the station church of the previous day.

Mosaics in the interior of the basilica were done in the 13th century. When popes returned to Rome from Avignon, they took up residence in this basilica and later at St. Mary Major before the Vatican palace was built. St. Mary in Trastevere also had the honour as a replacement to one of the major basilicas when the Basilica of St. Paul was flooded.

The Polish Cardinal Józef Glemp, now 82, is the Cardinal-Priest of the titular church. In 1981, he was appointed Archbishop of both Gniezno and Warsaw, and the Ordinary of Gniezo had traditionally been given the title of Primate of Poland. Since 1515, Primates of Poland have had the singular privilege of using the red zucchetto, normally reserved only to cardinals. Even though Cardinal Glemp ceased to be the Archbishop of Gniezno in 1992, he remained as Archbishop of the capital see until 2006, and held on to the title of Primate until 2009 when he became 80.

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