Station Churches of Rome

In 04 Fr. John McCloskey on 2015/02/20 at 12:00 AM

by George and Stephen Weigel with Rome Elizabeth Lev – published by Basic Books, 2014

The distinguished team of papal biographer George Weigel, his photographer-son Stephen (who handles the illustrations), and well-known art and architecture historian, professor, author, and tour guide resident in Rome Elizabeth Lev have collaborated to produce The Station Churches of Rome (published by Basic Books, 400 pages with dozens of color illustrations).

At first glance this work might be dismissed as yet another expensive coffee table book, but it is much more. Indeed it could variously be classified under the headings of Church history, architecture, archaeology, liturgy, art, tour guide, or spiritual reading. Let’s just say that this is a magnificent book about religion and in particular about a religious practice—pilgrimage—that predates both Rome and Christianity. In particular, the book chronicles an ancient Roman pilgrimage to the Station Churches during the connected liturgical Seasons of Lent and Easter.

Christians adopted the practice of pilgrimage from their spiritual forbears, the ancient Israelites, when Christianity ceased to be a persecuted Church of the catacombs after Constantine’s Edict of Milan brought her out from illegality and persecution. This particular pilgrimage has experienced a revival in recent years, particularly with the beginning of the new millennium in 2000 that was so gloriously celebrated in the lands of Christianity and especially in Rome. The timing argues that at least part of the credit should go to the influence of our newly canonized St. John Paul the II, who was surely the greatest pilgrim in history. His frequent flyer miles alone would have brought him to heaven regardless of his sanctity.

John Paul explained the dynamic of pilgrimage in his own words in 1999 in his letter on pilgrimage:


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