Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Maureen and I brgan our Good Friday by going to Morning Prayer at the church of San Giorgio in Velabro. It was a small crowd of less than 20 and we sang psalms and scripture, included the Lamentations of Jeremiah (a traditional part of Tenebrae). A bit of a capella chanting in a simple early medieval church is a perfect way to set the tone for Good Friday.

Then we decided that we should make the kids suffer a little by dragging them around to churches.

We went to St. John Lateran, which is the only of the four major basilicas that we had not yet visited. The original structure was built by Constantine in the 4th century, but was given a baroque makeover by Borromini in the 17th.
Including a cool-gross statue of St. Bartholomew holding his own skin (he was flayed to death).
It still has its gothic baldichino over the high altar,
and a 13th century apse mosaic.
It (and not, as most people presume, St. Peter's) is the cathedral for the city of Rome and so contains the Pope's cathedra or throne.

We also looked in the Baptistry, which was also built by Constantine, and was where every Roman was baptized during the 4th century:

The baptistry has some great mosaics:
Then we went to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, which was build on the site of a palace belonging to Constantine's mother, Helena, and which contains several relics associated with the Passion, including the plaque hung above Jesus' head by Pilate, as well as several pieces of the cross that Helena brought back with her from Jesrusalem. It's often hard to know what to make of such claims, but the devotion of the people there was certainly real, and who is to say that they are not genuine.

We then went to the little oratory of St. Francis Xavier, where we joined in the Good Friday liturgy. Aside from a slightly flimsy cross for the veneration, it was very nice. While there we ran into Clare Pratt, whom we had known over 20 years ago in Houston. She has been in Rome for the past 15 years working for her order (the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus), most recently as Superior General. It's a small, small world. I figure that if I can run into someone in Rome that I knew two decades ago and half a world away, then perhaps relics of the true cross making their way to Rome is not so far-fetched after all.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With this beautiful Good Friday presentation you are forgiven for your detour to Belgium! My Good Friday was mundane but, hopefully, it led to forgiveness any way. Tupe & company arrived late Friday for the weekend I will miss the next 2 weekends for Anne,s wedding and a trip to Rome. As the new President of the parish counsel I may be impeached. Clayt gave suggestions for things he wants to see. Good! Is a trip to Assisi feasable? Any thing is fine with me. See you soon.Love to 1 & all, Papa/Dad