Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Santa Pudenziana

Hey Ya'll,

How are things? Well, I hope.

This is Victor Ingalls from Montgomery, AL again. Quickly I just want to thank all of the guys who are collaborating to cover these Station Churches throughout Lent. It has really been edifying for me to make these pilgrimages with ya'll, work together on this project, and to share one another's reflections about these holy sites. I am confident that God is working amidst our efforts, bestowing graces upon many people...in ways we may never know. So thank ya'll again and Thank God for being so good to us.

And to you our reader...thanks for sharing in this experience with us. We pray for all of ya'll daily and hope that these words bring you a bit of the Hope and the Joy that come from following Christ.

Today we made our pilgrimmage to Santa Pudenziana, a small Church dedicated to St. Pudens, a senator of ancient Rome. Before being dedicated a Church, this was simply the house of St. Pudens. Here is a picture of its facade.

Tradition holds that St. Peter himself lived here with St. Pudens for at least six years. Consequently, we believe that St. Peter celebrated his very first Mass in Rome at this site! In one of the side chapels, there are some wooden pieces of the altar which St. Peter would have used. Also, it is very possible that this is the same Pudens that St. Paul refers to in his second letter to Timothy (4:21)-"Try to get here before winter. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers send greetings."

St. Pudens is believed to have had two daughters, Pudentiana and Praxedes. Tradition holds that they would collect the remains of several Christians who were martyred in Rome, burying them in a well within their home. Also at some point, another member of the early Roman Church, St. Pastor, organized prayer and Masses here for some time. During the Mass, Catholics believe that the prayers and praises of all of the faithful on Earth are joined with those of all the angles and saints in Heaven, resulting on one, strong, universal worship of God the Father. Needless to say, it was amazing to call to mind all of these brothers and sisters who have gone before us in faith as we celebrated Mass there today....in union with them!!!

As early as 384, there is evidence of formal use of this building as a Church. But as I described before, it has been a place of Christian prayer and worship since the very first century. The mosaic pictured below is rather significant. It stands today as one of the only remaining mosaics of the Roman style from the late 4th/early 5th century. The style is distinct from the more gilded Byzantine style. Too all of the figures are dressed in the Roman fashion. All of this results in a very distinct, Roman mosaic.

There are a number of American students here in Rome studying architecture. A good number of them join us at the Station Churches each morning. So they, in a special way, are really appreciating the architectural richness of these Churches...amongst all the other riches to be had!!! Consequently we are enjoying the richness of their presence with us early in the morning. It is inspiring to see so many young people who sacrifice the extra hours of early morning sleep, the comfort of their beds, and the convenience of their schedules to make it to the daily 7AM Mass. It means that they have to get up around 5AM each day and walk for about an hour (each way) through Rome as the sun is just beginning to rise.

Santa Pudenziana filled with these kids and many other pilgrims

However, walking through Rome that early can have its advantages....check out this picture I took in route just the other day:

Not bad hunh?

One last point about Santa Pudenziana:

One of the side chapels boasts a "Eucharistic miracle!" Tradition holds that one day, a priest was celebrating Mass at one of the side altars of this church. This priest was really struggling with doubts about the "Real Presence"of the Eucharist (the Catholic belief that bread and wine are mystically transformed into the Real body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ during the Mass). As he was celebrating the Mass, he accidentally dropped a couple of hosts onto the marble floor. When he picked the hosts up, he saw that they had left behind two blood stains as well as had burnt black circles into the marble floor! Though the chapel was closed today, people can still come and visit this site and see these black markings on the floor! This site has some good close up pictures of these miraculous stains!

Here are the readings from Mass today:

{Note of "Divine Irony": The seminarian who read the first reading and Psalm today at Mass was Tim Daniel of Washington, D.C. As he read the reading from the Book of the Prophet Daniel, a fresco of St. Timothy hovered over his head...commemorating the mention of St. Prudens in 2 Tim 4:21. Hahaha}

Alright ya'll, have a blessed day! Let's pray for one another. We will talk to ya'll tomorrow.

Lenten Peace.

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