Tuesday 31 October 2017

Pilgrimage to Rome 2017 (2) - Opening Mass in the Minerva

Meeting in the Vatican
Our pilgrimage to Rome works on several levels.  It is a visit to the tombs of the Apostles and the other Saints of Rome.  It is an occasion to spend time together in prayer as a group.  It is an opportunity to experience the sights, sounds and culture of Rome, to see with our own eyes our heritage as Catholics in living as well as in static form.  It is a journey to honour the See of Peter and Our Holy Father the Pope.  As a journey to experience the Catholic culture of Rome and to honour the Holy See, an important element of our pilgrimage is always to pay our respects to officials of the Holy See.  This year, a few of the pilgrims had the honour to begin our first day, just before Mass, with an audience with the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Archbishop Arthur Roche.

Mass in the Minerva
The first Mass of the 2017 Catholic Heritage Association Pilgrimage to Rome took place in the Sacristy Chapel of the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, that is, the Basilica of Our Lady built over the ruins of the Temple of Minerva.  During our 2008 Pilgrimage we had the privilege of having Mass in the beautiful Capranica Chapel dedicated to the Holy Rosary (see here).  This year, continuing our quest 'boldly to go where few men have gone before,' we were granted an even greater privilege to have Mass in the small Chapel of Saint Catherine of Siena, which is the actual room in which Saint Catherine died, and which is to be found behind the wonderful Sacristy of the Basilica (see here), the site of at least two Papal Conclaves.

The Chapel was rebuilt on this site in 1637 on the initiative of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, using the original walls of the room in a nearby house where the Saint died in 1380.  The house itself is now the site of the Palazzo di Santa Chiara on the Via Santa Chiara and the space left by the room is now itself a Chapel (see here) called Santa Caterina da Siena in Transito.

The Cardinal also had the frescoes attributed to Antoniazzo Romano and his assistants placed in the Sacristy Chapel, which had originally had been in the left arm of the transept.  Over the Altar, the Crucifixion and the Saints, on the left wall, the Annunciation with Ss. Jerome and Onofrio, and on the right wall, the Resurrection with Ss. Lucy and Augustine.

The Altar was erected by Pope Benedict XIII, himself a Dominican who is buried in the Chapel of St. Dominic in the left hand transept of the Basilica, decorated by the Filippo Raguzzini on the instructions of the same Pope Benedict XIII.