Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Holy Week

As you would imagine, Rome has more than its fair share of religious relics and art works. What better time than Holy Week to seek out those relating to The Passion.
Scala Sancta

These stairs are traditionally believed to be from the house of Pontius Pilate and were climbed by Christ on the way to trial. The marble steps are protected by a wooden cover containing holes through which marks can be seen that are said to be the blood of Christ. Faithful Christians ascend the staircase on their knees.
The stairs were bought back to Rome by St Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, and are housed across the piazza from San Giovanni in Laterano.

Santa Prassede
Within the church of Santa Prassede lies the gorgeous little chapel of St Zenone. The mosaic decorations include these beautiful angels watching over you from the ceiling.
In a niche to the right of the chapel is a fragment of the column to which Christ was bound. It was bought to Rome at the time of the Crusades.

Santa Croce in Gerusalemme
Fragments of the True Cross, two thorns from the crown and a nail from the crucifixion were bought to Rome by St Helena (she was a prolific relic collector!)

They are housed in a modern chapel,The Chapel of the Passion, within the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. The Stations of the Cross line the stairs that lead up to the chapel.

The elaborate reliquaries that hold the relics were designed by Valadier. The fragments of wood form part of the cross.


St Peters
Two Passion related relics are held in St Peters, The Lance of Longinus and The Veil of St Veronica. The lance was believed to have pierced Christ's side and the veil, a cloth used by St Veronica to wipe the brow of Christ on his way to Calvary.
Statues of St Veronica, Longinus and St Helena, designed by Bernini, stand in the piers that make up the central crossing of the basilica. Above these are balconies where the relics were displayed at Easter.

Perhaps the most moving reminder of the Passion of Christ is seen in Michelangelo's Pieta (in the first chapel of the right hand aisle). All the more remarkable as Michelangelo was only 24 when he created this sculpture.

Ponte Sant'Angelo

A walk across this bridge reminds us of the events of Good Friday as each of the Bernini designed angels holds an instrument of Christ's suffering including nails and the crown of thorns.

 Trinita dei Monte

This church at the top of the Spanish Steps houses a version of 'The Deposition'(descent from the cross) by Volterra, a student of Michelangelo

A fitting way to end our Holy Week in the Eternal City.

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