Friday, March 03, 2006


So a friend of mine offered a wonderful idea the other day...

As most of the readership isn't in Rome (however many of you are there), I've found that one reason a good many of you enjoy Whispers is that it has a certain Roman flavor to it. And I'm very grateful for your kindness in gleaning that sense.

Given this, I was asked, why not do a daily glance at the Station Churches in turn? The Lenten Stations, a tradition dating back a millennium, are quite popular in Rome, and there's a liturgy at the day's appointed church in the afternoon. However, as The Tablet's Robert Mickens reported in his Letter from Rome last week, the Pontifical North American College has a liturgy of its own at the daily stations -- "at the very penitential hour of 7am."

The NAC has a guide to the Stations here. However -- but two days into Lent -- they flubbed today's destination and inserted the wrong link to the Friday after Ash Wednesday page.... So if a bunch of people end up at the Dodici a week early, well, blame the Gianicolo.

Today's church, however, is one with a uniquely American tie. Indeed, at his installation as archbishop of New York in 2000, the man who would become its titular called it "New York's own."

The Basilica of Ss. John and Paul (Ss. Giovanni e Paolo) on the Coelian Hill is one of the oldest churches in the city. It's built over the home of John and Paul, members of the imperial court who were martyred in the reign of Julian the Apostate (who, observant readers will note, was cited by Benedict XVI in Deus caritas est).

In 1930, the church was the cardinalatial title assigned to Eugenio Pacelli, the Secretary of State who became Pope Pius XII. In his first consistory, which wasn't held until his eighth year on Peter's chair, Pius gave his old title to his longtime friend and ally Francis Spellman, the archbishop of New York. It has likewise been inherited by Spelly's successors: (the Servant of God) Terence Cooke, John O'Connor and Edward Egan, who was ordained a bishop in the church three days before it was entrusted to O'Connor at the public consistory of 25 May 1985.

So, two days late, here begins the tour. Welcome to it. And know that Roman eyes are already turning toward 25 March, the Saturday of the Third Week of Lent. As it's been said, "The whole world will be in Rome for the Consistory [the day before] and they'll want to make a Station.... And where will it be that day???"

The question was so emphatically asked as the answer is Santa Susanna, the national church for Americans in Rome.

More to the point: Susanna's is the titular church of Cardinal Bernard Law.