Thursday, June 18, 2009

Santa Maria in Vallicella

The titular of the Chiesa Nuova, seat of the Roman Oratory and resting-place of St Philip Neri, is Our Lady, and the patronal feast is kept each passing year on her birthday - the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the 8th of September, some nine months having passed since her Immaculate Conception:

On the eighth of September 
Saint Anna gave birth 
and all of the world 
was filled with joy and mirth: 
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria, 
Ave, Ave, Ave, Maria.

Whatever of this little ditty (to the tune of the famous Lourdes hymn), on the 8th of September I will arrive early in the morning in the Eternal City, and hope to keep the feast of Our Lady's Birth  at her famous church there.  

Infant Mary, Joy of earth,
We with all this world of mirth,
Light-hearted and joy-laden,
Greet the morning of thy Birth,
Little Maiden.

I note certain other saint's days of special Roman relevance ensue:
  • Thursday the 10th is the feast of St Nicolas of Tolentino: his church, San Nicola da Tolentino agli Orti Sallusti ("in the Gardens of Sallust"!) is home to Rome's Armenian Rite Catholics;
  • Friday the 11th is the commemoration of SS Protus & Hyacinth, specially venerated at both Propaganda Fide and the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini (where St Philip and his first disciples conducted their devotions; they even had charge of it for some years);
  • Monday the 14th is of course Holy Cross Day, and I hope to go to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme to adore* the portion of the Holy Cross and other relics of Our Lord's Passion preserved therein;
  • Thursday the 17th is the commemoration of the Sacred Stigmata of St Francis, and an excellent day to visit Assisi, being the day before I return to Australia (and that day itself is amusingly appropriate: it's the feast of St Joseph of Cupertino, a holy Franciscan best known for his miraculous flights and levitations, who is thereby a patron saint of air travel).
[* To relics or icons of the saints, one pays a relative veneration - since it is directed not to the material object, but "through" it to the holy elect of God whose relic or image it is, since to such friends of Christ in heaven are due our love and reverence - while to relics or icons of Our Saviour, one pays a relative adoration - not adoring the object, which would be mad and detestable idolatry, a bowing down to sticks and stones, but a faithful direction of our worshipping gaze beyond the material to God the Son Incarnate; and in the special case of relics of His Passion, such as fragments of the Holy Cross, the Lance, the Nails, the Crown of Thorns, we must ever bear in mind that these were drenched in His Precious Blood, in the Gore of God!]
Remember to pass on any useful hints for a first-time traveller to Italy...

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