Tuesday of Week II of Lent

Named for the 2nd-century virgin martyr St. Balbina, the Basilica of St. Balbina was built in 336 AD. Situated just next to Baths of Caracalla, it is one of the original 25 Titular Churches of Rome. Pope Gregory the Great reconsecrated it in the sixth century. Restoration during the 1930s revealed decoration dating from the 9-14th century.

St. Balbina died around 130 AD after his father St. Quirinus was martyred. Relics of St. Balbina are placed in the main altar, as well we those of his father and St. Felicissimus. The feast of St. Balbina is celebrated on March 31. Some of her relics were also brought to the majestic cathedral of Cologne.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom–Budapest and primate of Hungary, is the Cardinal-Priest of the Titular Church. Now aged 59, he was the youngest cardinal in the world until the consistory of 2010. In 2006, I had the pleasure of meeting the Prince of the Church by chance at the Toronto airport and sharing the same flight with him, when I was about to go on a pilgrimage to Hungary! He received this titular church in a fitting way, as the first Hungarian cardinal was buried in this basilica. His name reminds of the great mathematician Paul Erdős who has greatly inspired me in my research in mathematics.

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