Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Sunday in Rome

As the Eucharist began at Caravita, the priest's white vestments were an announcement that it was the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of Ordinary Time. Next Sunday would be the beginning of Advent. (I have to remember to get purple candles.) The congregation of about 50 people was smaller than usual. Was it because of the Thanksgiving holiday or the consistory this weekend when Pope Benedict XVI created new cardinals?

After Mass, Vincenzo and I each had a panino for lunch and then set off together for a little exploring. We found a store that sold water from around the world. We browsed around a bookstore, Vin looking at psychology books while I checked out children's books and art books.

Our wandering took us to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, one of the four principal basilicas in Rome and one of the seven medieval pilgrimage churches. (Many have heard of my New York City seven church pilgrimage on Holy Thursday. This tradition is based on the pilgrimage to seven churches in Rome.) Santa Maria Maggiore has long been famous for the acheiropoieton (not created by hand) picture of the Madonna, the relic of the holy crib, and a precipio that was described by English pilgrims in 721.

The best part of the afternoon was visiting the small Basilica of St. Prassede, down the street and around the corner from Santa Maria Maggiore. Georgina Masson is her "Companion Guide to Rome" describes St. Pressede as "one of the most moving and appealing of Roman churches. It is rich in art treasures, but on entering it is not so much this that strikes us, as the sensation of being in a well-loved parish church, where for the last eleven centuries people have come with their load of cares and sorrows, and gone away refreshed.° The small side chapel of St. Zeno has some of the most amazing mosaics I have ever seen. It is an intimate space and we were captivated by this beautiful expression of faith created in the Ninth Century. This church should not be missed when one visits the city of Rome.

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