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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Station at St. Marcellus

Wednesday in Passion Week.
Station at St. Marcellus.
(S. Marcello al Corso.)

This venerable sanctuary, one of the oldest tituli or parishes of the city, dates its origin from the year 308 when Pope Saint Marcellus here opened an oratory in the house of a devout matron Lucina. Excavations have corroborated the data furnished by the Acta of St Marcellus.

The tyrant Maxentius, who was afterwards defeated by Constantine in 312, desecrated this spot, ordering the horses of the public carriers to be stabled there, and condemning Pope Marcellus to the degrading duties of stable work.

St. Marcellus condemned to taking care of beasts in the church.

The venerable Pontiff, wretchedly clad and wearing a hair-shirt, worked in the vile service of the animals, says St Damasus. His austerities and the brutal treatment he suffered soon exhausted his strength; he sank under his hardships and privations in the year 310, and was buried in the cemetery of St. Priscilla. In the fifth century, when the oratory was enlarged into a church, the relics of the Holy Pontiff were translated to beneath the high altar, where they remain to this day.

The High Altar under which repose the relics of St. Marcellus,
a suitable glory for the martyr
who knew this place in quite another state.

A miracle took place here in 1519, which is very fitting for this Stational Church in Passiontide. The present church, which is the work of the seventeenth century, contains nothing of the ancient structure due to a fire which raised it to the ground in that year. All that was left standing was a Crucifix which had been left untouched by the flames and burning ashes.

In this church the words of the Passiontide Lauds hymn take on a very special charm:

Crux fidelis inter omnes...

Faithful Cross! above all other,

One and only noble Tree!
None in foliage, none in blossom,
None in fruit thy peers may be:
Sweetest wood and sweetest iron!
Sweetest weight is hung on thee.

The miraculous Crucifix carried in procession
at S. Marcello in 1931.

The Gospel of today speaks of the feast of the Encaenia, as the Hellenist Jews called the new dedication of the temple, which was being celebrated at Jerusalem (John X, 22-28). Our Lord's presence at the feast of Encaenia again teaches us that we should take frequent part in the solemn festivals of the Church, that they may be in truth the social and collective expression of the mystical union which binds all the faithful to the person of the Redeemer in a common bond of faith, hope and charity.

Liturgical Note:

The Lenten fast is now drawing to its close. In a short time, the catechumens will be called upon to take a solemn vow in public that they will observe the Law of God, for which reason the Church, with more than her usual insistence, dwells on the teaching of the Decalogue in the lessons of today. The ten precepts of the Torah are indeed comprised in the New Testament in a single word, "Love," for, as St Paul explains, the law of love having no limit embraces God as well as our neighbour, and is the chief motive of all dutiful service .

Let us pray.

Liberator meus de gentibus...
My deliverer from the angry nations:
Thou wilt lift me up above them that rise up against me:
from the unjust man Thou wilt deliver me, O Lord.
I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength:
the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge.

... et liberator meus. Liberator meus de gentibus...

(Introit of today's Mass.Ps 17:48,49; 17:2,3.
The repetitive idea of a deliverer, a liberator,
with which the prayer begins and ends
evokes a charming reflection on the sufferings endured
by the saint with whom this Station is associated.)


Anonymous said...

Father, is the latest CATHOLIC late in coming out or am I just too anxious for it?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing the beautiful stories of Pope St. Marcellus and the miraculous Crucifix of St. Marcellus Church. God bless!


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