Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday: Introduction to My Lenten Journey

I will be taking a journey during Lent to visit a church on each of the seven historic hills of Rome. I plan to reflect on the Sunday Gospel in the context of each church, and I will share what I experience on this blog. I hope you can journey with me as we make our way to Easter.

I begin on the Aventine Hill. Traditionally the Bishop of Rome comes to this hill on Ash Wednesday. He walks from the Benedictine church of San Anselmo to the Dominican church of Santa Sabina, where he presides over an Ash Wednesday liturgy. The Roman tradition for the distribution of ashes is to sprinkle ashes on the head, rather than making the sign of the cross with ashes on the forehead.

Branches from Palm Sunday are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. These palm trees are on the Aventine Hill.
The pope will go past the gate to the Knights of Malta as he walks between the two churches. Inside the gate (above) with its famous keyhole, is the Church of Santa Maria del Priorato.
This church is the only building actually designed and built by the 18th century artist and engraver Giovan Battista Piranesi. The inside of the church is lined with funerary monuments, fitting for Ash Wednesday, when we hear the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return."

This is the sculpture that is part of the
memorial containing the ashes of Pieranasi.

Above: The nave of the church.
Below: Detail of the main altar, with a stature of St. Basil.
Collect for Ash Wednesday
Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have
made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent: Create and
make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily
lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission
and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives
and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever
and ever. Amen. From The Book of Common Prayer


Don LaSalle said...

Thanks, Larry for leading us on this journey. I never knew you could get on the other side of the keyhole to see the church. Happy Lent!

Bill B said...

Very interesting! Larry, did this Brit TV gaffe, when the news anchor mistook VP Biden's Ash Wednesday mark as bruise, make the news in Rome?

Harriet said...

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to take this journey with you. The brillant blue of the sky caught my attention - what a contrast to the wintry gray that I see outside my window most days. A picture of the hope of resurrection.