We visited several churches. First on the list was St.Peter in chains.
The chains of St.Peter with which he was bound while in Rome.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the book of Acts describes the story well:
“Peter therefore was kept in prison. But prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shined in the room. And he, striking Peter on the side, raised him up, saying: Arise quickly. And the chains fell off from his hands. (Acts 12:5-7)
We were able to say mass on the altar before the chains. St. John Chrysostom’s words on St. Paul’s chains apply equally to St.Peter’s: “No glittering diadem so adorns the head as a chain borne for Christ. Were the choice offered me either of heaven or of this chain suffered for Christ, I would take the chain. If I might have stood with the angels above, near the throne of God, or have been bound with Paul, I should have preferred the dungeon. Had you rather been the angel loosing Peter or Peter in chains? I would rather have been Peter. The gift of chains is something greater than power to stop the sun, to move the world, or to command the devils.” In the crypt behind the chains there is an altar with the relics of the 7 Machabees brothers, martyrs.
After mass we visited the Basilica of St. Mary Majors, the chief Marian Basilica in the world…
…and venerated the relics of our Lord’s crib which are kept there. The wood from the crib can be seen through the glass in the silver reliquary.
We next visited the church of St. Alphonsus, and prayed before the original icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Succour.
From there we visited the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
The table of the Last supper. The wood of the table can be seen through the transparent part of the reliquary.
Santa Maria in Aracoeli, built on the site of the ancient Roman capital, rises above the ruins of a temple to Juno Moneta. According to legend, the Emperor Augustus, disturbed by rumors that the Senate was about to honor him as a God, consulted the Tiburtine Sibyl, who prophesied the descent from the skies of "the King of the ages." As she spoke, the Emperor beheld a marvelous vision - the Virgin standing on an altar in a dazzling light and holding the baby Jesus in her arms - and heard a voice which said: "This is the altar of the Son of God." The Emperor immediately raised an altar on the site, the Ara Coeli, or altar of the heavens. The original altar now stands in the transept chapel in which St. Helena is buried and bears an inscription: Struxit Octavianus hanc aram coeli sacra proles dum patet ei. (Octavian built this altar when the offspring of heaven appeared to him.) The richly gilded ceiling was presented by the Roman senate in 1571, in thanksgiving to Our lady for the Victory over the Moslems at the Battle of Lepanto.
Father Anthony saying mass in the side chapel of St. Gregory in the Ara Coeli.
The body of the Franciscan Martyr St. John of Triora, martyred in China in 1816 lies below the altar.
There are 124 steps that one needs to climb in order to reach the Ara Coeli, which was once the highest point in Rome, until Mussolini built his monument to Victor Emmanuel. We were however told that the distinction of being the highest point in Rome now belongs to the Vatican Radio tower.