Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thursday of Fourth Week: Santi Silvestro e Martino

So after yesterday's escapade, I didn't know what we might be able to expect today.  If I were thinking straight I would have clipped some more shots of the walk, if only to show you what the heart of Rome looks like.  Yesterday we went almost straight south and didn't really see any of the city itself.  Today we walked east right down the middle and went straight through the ancient Roman forum on our way to the station church.  Alas!  Maybe there will be another over in that direction and I'll make another vid next week.

The nice thing is that today's station church was excellent, which means that for most of Mass I was distracted and looking around at all the pretty and shiny things.  I kept on thinking, "gosh why don't we make churches like this anymore?".  So I'm gonna break my 'two-pictures-only rule' again today.

Santi Silvestro e Martino

This church is named after Pope St. Silvester I (+335) and St. Martin of Tours (+397), although the first place of Christian worship on this site was not associated with either.  It was a house which belonged to a priest named Equitas, and only later was it taken by Pope Silvester and converted into a church (which at the time was named after Equitas).  This church is significant because it was the location for both the preparatory meeting of the Roman clergy -- in which they prepared their written statement of faith for the Church's first council, Nicea I (in 325) -- as well as the subsequent reception and carrying out of the decrees of the council.  Which for them primarily meant destroying all the written copies of the works of a guy named Arius, who was condemned by the council.

Arianism was a heresy in the early Church taught by the priest Arius that denied Jesus' divinity.  His basic idea was that Jesus was created by God the Father.  Consequently, he was neither co-equal nor co-eternal with the Father.  The Church said, "well Arius you really flubbed that one," and condemned Arius' idea as, mmm... unacceptably problematic.  The Council of Nicea defended Jesus' full divinity and full equality with the Father.  Now the happy side of all this is that it gave occasion for the folks in Rome to have a really big Arian bonfire and roast a lot of marshmallows for the whole Roman neighborhood.

Two nearby churches were built in honor of Martin (in the late fifth century) and Silvester ("later" ... my book doesn't say when), which were both replaced with the basilica on this spot by Pope Sergius II (+847).  It was restored extensively in the 16th and 17th centuries which provides the basic look which we see today:
If there's one thing I learned about about photography and movie-making in college which is proved in this picture, it is that LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING.  Proper lighting makes a world of difference.
Underneath the main high altar up there is a confessio which contains the relics of many early martyrs of Rome.  Confessios are awesome, who doesn't love going down into a crypt area and looking around at all the secrets?  We got a chance to check it all out after Mass:
Yup, I was impressed by this church.  Will have to be back some day to see it again.  But that's enough for now, I'm off to bed.  Peace!

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