Friday, March 7, 2014



The church of Ss John & Paul is another ancient one, located on the Celian Hill just up from the Colosseum.  These two saints were actually martyred after the time of Constantine, during the period of the Emperor Julian "The Apostate."  The church was built within only a few decades of their deaths, on the house where they were beheaded.  It's a peaceful place, and it is currently the center for the Passionist order, of whom Joe Barbieri, a friend from seminary days, is now a member.  Joe was stationed for a while near Manduria (in the "heel of the boot" of Italy--famous for wonderful Primitivo wine); he's now in Texas. 

This church is also the traditional "titular church" of the cardinal-archbishops of New York.  As such, when Cardinal Cooke died in 1984, this was the location for a memorial Mass for him, for which I was part of the choir. 

But Cardinal Dolan does not have this as his titular church since Cardinal Egan (his predecessor), though retired, is still alive; so it is still his titular church.

Why "titular churches" at all?  It is a way of tying cardinals around the world to the Church of Rome, and since the origin of cardinals was in part to take care of the churches and "social service centers" (diaconiae) of Rome, this honorific, so to speak, keeps up the fiction.  The illustration here is the best image of the whole church's exterior--photographs typically focus on the bell tower only.

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