We are so close now! Today is the last day of the normal station churches. Tomorrow we cowboy up for a 14-mile walk to Rome's 'big seven' in prep for the Easter Triduum. I will be offering the day's journey for your prayer intentions, so be sure to bring something to mind tomorrow morning when you think of it -- I'll be currently en route!
Today's final station, fittingly it seems, is just down the street from our first station, Santa Sabina, which we saw nearly six weeks ago on Ash Wednesday. The St. Prisca whose name adorns this church is the Prisca of Paul's time (sometimes also called by the name Priscilla); she and her husband Aquila are mentioned several times in the NT because of the help they rendered to Paul on his missionary journeys (Acts 18:2; Rm 16:3; 1 Cor 16:19; 2 Tim 4:19).
This church's structure, particularly on the sanctuary end of it, incorporates some ancient Roman structures dating as far back as the second century after Christ. The first mention of a titulis church here comes from the fifth century, by which time it already bore the name of Prisca, but we don't know much else about its development in the first millennium. In 1104 Bishop Walo of Paris sponsored the building of a larger structure to replace the original church, and in 1455 Pope Callistus III repaired this church after a fire necessitated the replacement of an entire wall. The current facade was built in the early 1600s, and the interior was renovated a century later in the contemporary style of the day.
Excavations done in 1938 beneath the church revealed that it was built over a second century Mithraic temple. This was not an uncommon practice in the ancient Church, as a sign of Christ's victory over the pagans gods who could not save. We saw another example of this in the basilica of St. Clement, which also sits over a Mithraic temple.
Before I finish, let me post a final map of the station churches we've seen over of the course of our Lenten journey. The dark green lines are the ancient Aurelian walls of Rome built between 271 and 275 AD to protect the city. The dark blue X marker toward the upper left is the North American College. The dark gray lines are the walking routes which lead to the light blue markers, churches we've seen. The medium blue markers are the weekend station churches I did not see during Lent, and the bright red markers with the crimson red lines are the seven basilicas and walking route I'll be taking tomorrow.
The route starts at the NAC and goes due east to Santa Maria Maggiore, then further east up to St. Lawrence Outside the Walls, then south to Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, with a jaunt west to St. John Lateran. Then we go south to St. Sebastian (way) Outside the Walls, west to St. Paul Outside the Walls, then north and northwest along the Tiber river up to St. Peter's, where we will finish. A good walk; please pray for me and for everyone who will be making the pilgrimage tomorrow!