With the arrival of day three we begin to seriously take on our mission of visiting the seven main churches of Rome to get the plenary indulgence - having visited St. Peter's the day before we head of to do three churches in one day; St. John Lateran (picture 1), Holy Cross and St. Lawrence. Starting at St. John parts of the group chose to climb the Holy Stairs while the rest of us went in. Il Laterano is, just like many of the other famous and popular Roman churches, full of tourists and has not one but two gift shops (I write this as if it's a bad thing but, truth be told, I'm usually the first one in there). A grand church with apse mosaics and huge statues of the disciples, still one of the nicest (and cutest) decoration details is how the little sculpture angels that adorn the ceiling all have different facial characteristics and expressions. After remembering to post our Vatican-stamped postcards (the Lateran counts as Vatican territory despite being on the opposite side of the city) we all went on to the museums. Surprisingly empty of visitors this magnificent collection of papal possessions on display in the richly decorated rooms (picture 2) where the popes were once meant to live.
Next on the list was the church Santa Croce in Gerusalemme but that being closed for lunch we instead went on to San Lorenzo (a few stops further on the tram). Construction of this church began in 6th century in honour of St. Lawrence who was executed on the site, over the centuries since parts have been added. Interred in the church are, except for St. Lawrence also St. Stephen the protomartyr and Pope Pius IX (picture 3), in front of whom we gathered and prayed. Looking around the church we found, behind glass, the stone upon which St. Lawrence was put after having been roasted for his beliefs.
Now going back to Santa Croce we had better luck and got in to see the relics of the true cross; a nail, a few splinter of wood, a piece of the elogium (the panel hung on the cross) and two thorns from the crown placed on Jesus' head. In an adjoining room there is also a life-size copy of the shroud of Turin on display. Parts of this building, that holds such precious artifacts, have been turned into a hotel which, I must say, felt strange.
With now only three Pilgrim Churches remaining we went back to the convent for Vespers, Benediction, supper and then bed after a very long and eventful day.
De Mattei: Shedding Light on Today's Crisis - Italian historian Roberto de Mattei, whose columns we bring you here first in English each week, was stateside in Washington, D.C. last night. Below are hi...
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