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Live Lent with a devotion of the early Christians: Join us to see Rome’s “station churches”

By Songquan Deng | Shutterstock

Marinella Bandini - published on 02/14/21

Aleteia invites you to a virtual Lenten pilgrimage through Rome's 42 station churches: one church per day, from February 17 to April 11.

The tradition of the “station churches” is a beautiful way to live Lent in communion with generations of Catholics. This is an ancient tradition, begun in Rome in the 5th century and organized in its final and definitive form by Pope Gregory the Great.

Every day throughout Lent and the Octave of Easter, the faithful gathered around the pope in a different church in Rome, called a “station.” These were churches linked to the veneration of martyrs, whose relics were displayed for the occasion. Mass was celebrated, preceded by a procession in which the litany of the saints was sung.

The term “station” is borrowed from military jargon and means “to keep watch” or “to mount guard.” It’s a perfect term to indicate the spiritual attitude of vigilance, with the weapons of prayer and penance, that characterizes this special season in the life of the Church. The same concept would come to be used for the practice of the Stations of the Cross — now better known than the station churches.

The tradition of the “stations” was interrupted in the 14th century, with the popes in Avignon. But it was resumed by Sixtus V after the Council of Trent, spreading to other dioceses and the European continent. It has known ups and downs, but it is still alive. In more recent times, it has received new impetus from the work of the Collegium Cultorum Martyrum, which is in charge of the celebration, and from Pope John XXIII.

Aleteia invites you to a virtual Lenten pilgrimage through Rome’s 42 station churches: one church per day, from February 17 to April 11, to discover the artistic and spiritual treasures, the history and the curiosities of these places. It’s a journey in the footsteps of an ancient tradition and of witnesses of the faith, to help each of us renew our spiritual life.

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)


Read more:
This Lent why not get reacquainted with the spiritual masters?

Station Churches
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