Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches by George Weigel, with Elizabeth Lev and Stephen Weigel

Roman Pilgrimage The Station Churches by George Weigel

This book, which I used as my daily reading during Lent and the Octave of Easter this year, was given to me by my sister at Christmas, and I am very happy that she did so; this is a wonderful Lenten resource for enriching one’s Lenten experience.

The practice of going to particular churches in Rome to celebrate the Eucharist began very early; the order of visitation was largely fixed by Pop St. Gregory the Great (died 604), although later additions filled out the program to its present form. The Liturgy and the Stations affected each other, with stations fixed due to the readings and readings fixed due to the stations. The practice died out about 1305, when the Popes (temporarily) moved to Avignon, but has been revived in the 20th century. And while one might think that there are enough ancient churches in Rome so that each day can have a separate Station Church (Saint Peter’s is used at least three times during the Lenten and Easter Octave season).

This book first gives an introduction about the Station Churches and their purpose. Then, for each day in Lent (and in the Easter Octave), the book notes the station church, the Mass readings for that day, and gives a reference to the readings from the Order of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours. Our author gives a meditation on the Mass and Order readings, referential to the Station Church. There are magnificent color and black and white plates in the book (provided by the author’s son, who did the photography), and ending each daily section is a sidebar by our third author, an art historian, about the history of the station church and its architecture and artworks. My only wish is that the photographer and the art historian had had a closer working relationship, so that any unique art or architecture mentioned by the art historian would have been included in the color and black-and-white plates. The book ends with several pages of a standard map of Rome, with each week’s Station Churches notes on the map for that week (in case one finds oneself in Rome, and able to do the Station Churches in person).

I very much enjoyed reading this book, and I am very grateful to my sister for giving it to me at Christmas.

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