Sunday, March 9, 2014


This church is tucked away so that unless you were deliberately looking for it and knew (more or less) where to look, you'd probably never find it (rather like the Blessed Sacrament chapels in most of these churches--but I digress...).

The Via Cavour is a major street that runs from the entrance to the Roman Forum, past Santa Maria Maggiore, to the main train station, Stazione Termini.  Along it if you are attentive you'll find an archway where a covered staircase begins; the end of the staircase opens onto a piazza in front of this church.
The traditional treasure of this church is the chains which supposedly bound St Peter while awaiting his martyrdom.  They are in a clear casket below the main altar, in full view. 

But to the right is the treasure most people come to see:  the magnificent sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo, intended for the funerary monument (never completed) of Pope Julius II.  It may well be that Moses' face is Julius' portrait...  Not located in the position it was intended to be seen in the overall monument, it is still an overwhelming achievement.

For historians, though, a better treasure can be found in here:  a monument to Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa (near the main entrance, on the wall of the left side aisle). He was a 15th century churchman in all the best senses of the term:  a leader, a mystical/spiritual writer, and one of those who proved that the so-called "Donation of Constantine" (granting the Pope sovereignty over virtually all of Europe) was in fact a 9th century forgery.  Good for him!

The forgery was finally undone in the 19th century with the war of unification of Italy, capturing Rome in 1870.  This this, papal temporal rule came to an end, and there has been no greater blessing on the Church.  To quote the lines of Malvolio in Twelfth Night:  "Some are born great; some achieve greatness; and some have greatness thrust upon them."  And so the Church had greatness--release from temporal power--thrust upon them.  Praise the Lord for His goodness!

1 comment:

  1. I visited this church back in 1964, and I was the only one in the church. I had Moses all to myself. It was wonderful.