The Station Churches

Those of us who assist at the Traditional Latin Mass - and use daily missals, notice that during Lent (and also at other times within the liturgical year, Advent is another example) that there is a specific "Station" indicated for each of the days. The practice is not limited to the Extraordinary Form, as the Station Masses a very long held practice and are followed by seminarians from a number of seminaries in Rome.

 

We had a chance a couple of times to participate in just a couple of Masses at Station Churches in Rome and discovered what a wonderful thing it is to do during Lent.

 

A very thorough treatment of the subject is The Lenten Station Churches of Rome by Rev. James D. Watkins. It was published by the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and the copy we have was last revised and reprinted in 2002. (When we are citing from this work, we will indicate that by *)

 

Another, smaller work, was sent to us, but the author is unknown. It is more devotional than historical, and citations will be noted by ~.

 

  *The word "station" seems to be derived from the Latin statio or stare: a standing together, that is, a gathering around the bishop at the altar to celebrate the Eucharist. Before the end of the first century, the growth of the Christian community in the larger imperial centers (Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, etc.) required multiple Eucharistic liturgies in different domus Dei (i.e. churches in private homes), but the bishop's Eucharist remained the official liturgy. At least during the periods of relative calm, official stations were early designated for celebrating the major liturgical feasts in various churches, so that as much of the community as possible might gather around the bishop regularly or at least from time to time. In establishing a cycle of stational visits, the bishops of Rome, like other bishops who followed this policy, saw it it an apt symbol of the unity of the shepherd with his flock. For although the whole diocesan community could not attend the stational Mass, this Mass ould be the official diocesan liturgy, and delegations would be on hand to represent the various city districts, with their own clergy to minister to them. If the priest in charge of a titulus was absent, the celebrant wuld send him, as a sign of Eucharistic union, the fermentum, namely, a portion of his own consecrated Host. At Rome, no evidence remains of the specific locations of these early stations which were held in the large domus Dei and suburban cemeterial basilicas.

 

•It is not known which were the original Roman station churches, but the popes may have started the practice as early as the third century. After the Peace of Constantine in 313, the primitive domus Dei became the tituli, along with some of the vast new Constantinian basilicas. The number of stations and their solemnity gradually incraased, especially under the liturgical influence of Jerusalem. Significant additions were made to the list of stations by Leo 1 (440-46 1), Gregory the Great (590-603), and Gregory II (715--731). The list was essentially completed by Leo III (795-816) and encompasses ninety-four stations on ninety-two days, including the days of Lent and Easter 1378. Interest in them revived in the nineteenth century, especially under the influence of Leo XIII (1878-1903).

 

1. St. Anastasia, 2. St. Apollanariariacu, 3. Twelve Apostles, 4. St. Balbina, 5. St. Cecelia, 6. St. Chrysogonus, 7. St. Clement, 8. Sts. Cosmas and Damian, 9. Four Holy Crowned

 Martyrs, 10. Holy Cross of Jerusalem, 11. St Cyriacus, 12. St. Stephen, 13. St. Eusabius, 14. St. George, 15. St. John Lateran, 16. Sts. John and Paul, 17. St. John at the Latin Gate,  18. St Lawrence outside the Walls, 19. St. Lawrence in Damaso, 20. St. Lawrence in Lucina, 21. St. Lawrence in Panisperna, 22. St. Mark, 23. St. Marcellus, 24. Sts. Peter and Marcellus, 25. St. Mary in Dominica, 26. St. Mary Major, 27. St. Mary and the Martyrs, 28. St. Mary across the Tiber, 29. St Nicholas in Chains, 30 St. Nerius and Achilleus, 31. St. Paul Outside the Walls, 32. St. Pancratius Outside the Walls, 33. St. Peter, 34. St. Peter in Chains, 35. St. Praxedes, 36. St. Prisca, 37. St. Pudentiana, 38. St. Sabina, 39. St. Susanna, 40. St. Sylvester and Martia, 41. St Tryphon, 42. Vitalia, 43. St. Sixtus, 44. St. Mary the New, 45. St. Agatha.