Monday, March 8, 2010

Station Church: San Marco

Today we followed the normal route to the Angelicum stopping next to Piazza Venezia to celebrate Mass at the church of San Marco. It stands in the shadows of what we call the wedding cake, the typewriter, or what more reverent people call the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument.

There are many layers of ruins underneath the current church, including signs that it may have been a site of Christian worship before Pope St. Mark established the church of St. Mark on this spot in the mid 330s. There would be a new basilica built on this spot in the 6th century. But the church we see today is in fact one that was built in the 9th century. They were all built with the same dimensions though each was built at a higher level.

photo by gaspa

The crypt below houses the relics of Saints Abdon and Sennen, two Persians who are traditionally believed to have been martyred during the Decian persecution, perhaps nearby at the Coliseum. Here also rests the relics of Saints Restitus and Companions. Under the main altar are the relics of Pope St. Mark.

photo by gaspa

The mosaic in the upper apse is one from the early medieval period. Though a bit rough around the edges, it is actually one of my favorites because if you notice on the left side, far left, you have a figure with a blue square halo rather than the typical circular one around his head. This is Pope Gregory IV, who was still alive at the time of the construction of the mosaic. That's the reason for the odd looking halo. Presumptuous perhaps. Beside him are St. Felicissimus and Mark the Evangelist. On the right are Pope St. Mark, Agapitus, and Ages. Christ of course stands in the middle with twelve lambs coming towards him from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Notice though the arm of St. Mark the Evangelist resting on the shoulder of Pope Gregory IV, a great reminder of how close the Pope was to the first disciples. So also are we so close to these first Christians who gave their lives for the faith, for our faith, and now rest here for our inspiration.

photo by jimforest

Today's readings challenge us to trust the Lord. Just as the many saints who now rest in the church of St. Mark offered their lives for the Gospel trusting that God was always with them, so let us also trust in God's love and His mercy so that we too can stand before the world and profess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

For more info about this church check out pnac or wiki.


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