Tuesday 31 October 2017

Pilgrimage to Rome 2017 (3) - After Mass in the Minerva

The Sacristy of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

The Chapel of Saint Catherine is located behind the Sacristy of the Basilica. The Sacristy itself is an amazing and historic space. It has housed at least two Papal Conclaves, those of 1431 and 1447, to elect Popes Eugene IV and Nicholas V respectively. It can be found behind a gate just to the left of the Gospel-side Transept of the Basilica but, as ever, our intrepid pilgrimages organizer obtained for us access to some of those places in Rome where very few and only seldom go. The decoration of the Sacristy is by Andrea Sacchi in 1600, including the Crucifixion in the niche at the far end of the Sacristy (behind which is the Chapel of Saint Catherine). The ceiling scene of St. Dominic in glory is attributed to Giuseppe Puglia. The fresco of the Roman painter G. B. Speranza is placed on the front door, dating from 1640, and represents two conclaves which took place here. The Barberini bees - a motif that will recur throughout our pilgrimage - appear in several places in the Sacristy. In this case, they are the emblem of Cardinal Antonio Barberini, Archbishop of Reims, known as Antonio the Younger, one of the Cardinals Nephew of Pope Urban VIII. The Barberini family was a great benefactor of the Dominican Order and funded the decoration of the sacristy. The vestment benches and presses are also 17th cent. and are of walnut.

Inside the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

The Basilica is too filled with historic and artistic gems to cover all but those that our group concentrated upon were the tomb of Saint Catherine of Siena under the High Altar (seen below with the tomb of Pope Clement VII Medici behind. Opposite it out of shot the tomb of Pope Leo X Medici, both Florentines with strong connections to the Dominican Order), next to it, the Capranica Family Chapel of the Holy Rosary, where we had Mass on a previous Pilgrimage, the Caraffa Family Chapel with the tomb of Pope Paul IV at the end of the Epistle-side Transept (opposite the Chapel of St. Dominic at the end of the Gospel-side Transept, built for Pope Benedict XIII, the Dominican Pope, and containing his tomb), and finally, just next to the Caraffa Chapel, the tomb of the redoubtable Durandus.

Outside the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

In the Piazza outside the Basilica is Bernini's famous Obelisk supported by an Elephant, erected here by Pope Alexander VII Chigi, the first member of the Sodality of Our Lady (of a total of 20) to be elected Pope and of whom we shall hear much throughout the pilgrimage. Opposite the Basilica is the Palace of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, or the Academy of Noble Ecclesiastics, the finishing school for Vatican diplomats.

Just around the corner is the discreet - but fascinating - shopfront of Ditta Annibale Gammarelli, Ecclesiastical tailors since 1798, who provided the vestments for our pilgrimage.

Just a few steps up the street is the Pontifical French Seminary and the Seminary Church of Santa Chiara. Across the tiny Piazza di Santa Chiara is the Palazzo di Santa Chiara. This was once a house of Dominican Tertiaries and the actual site of the death of Saint Catherine of Siena. As already mentioned, the room itself where she died was moved into place behind the Sacristy of the Minerva, and the space left by that removal has been replaced by an amazing little chapel of 'Santa Catarina in Transito' which remains open to the public despite the Palazzo now being a public theatre - where some of the pilgrims also attended a selection of operatic pieces one evening of the trip.

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.

Monday 30 October 2017

Pilgrimage to Rome 2017 (1) - Opening Vespers and Benediction

The annual pilgrimage to Rome of the Catholic Heritage Association began this evening with Vespers of the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.  The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception was, as usual, the thread of prayer that joined together the various visits and ceremonies of the Pilgrimage.  The Hours of the Little Office were recited during the course of each day of the Pilgrimage.

We returned this year to the Istituto Maria Santissima Bambina, where we had stayed in 2003. The Istituo is one of the most spectacular and memorable places to stay in Rome. The Catholic Heritage Association always favours religious houses as the base for international pilgrimages and was pleased to have the opportunity to return to the Istituto. The House is run by the Sisters of Charity of the Infant Mary, founded in Milan by Saints Vincenza Gerosa and Bartolomea Capitanio, both members of the Sodality of Our Lady. It is a modern building in a part of the medieval Leonine fortifications surrounding the Vatican and is on Vatican Extraterritorial property. The views from the fourth floor terrace are legendary.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

Priory of Great Connell (Walsh)

The Last Remains of the Priory of Great Connell

The following is from Fr. Thomas Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, published in New York in 1854, chapter xlviii, at p. 482:

Great Conall, a village on the banks of the Liffey, which gives name to the barony.

AD 1202 This priory was founded under the invocation of the Virgin Mary and St David by Meyler Fitz Henry and was supplied with canons regular from the monastery of Lanthony in Monmouthshire.

AD 1205 King John confirmed the grants of land made by Meyler, whose father was natural son to King Henry I. The father of Meyler came to Ireland with the first adventurers was young and in high esteem for his personal bravery and warlike exploits in subduing the Irish.

AD 1209 Henry was prior.

AD 1340 William was prior.

AD 1380 It was enacted by parliament that no mere Irishman should make his profession in this abbey.

AD 1531 This priory paid proxies to the archbishop of Dublin. The prior of this house was a lord of parliament. Its property was granted to Edward Randolph and in reversion to Sir Edward Butler. In Elizabeth's time it was re-granted to Sir Nicholas White in reversion of sixty one years at the annual rent of £26 19s 5d Irish money. The nave and choir of the church measured two hundred feet in length by twenty five, two gothic or pointed windows have alone resisted the ravages of time. There are some pillars with curious capitals and some of the stalls. On an adjoining hill is a small square house with pediment fronts seemingly a turret belonging to the priory.