One of the best parts about spending Lent in Rome is the ancient tradition of the Station Churches.  Most of you reading this now probably read my blog from Rome, so you know that the Station Churches are forty of the oldest churches in Rome.  They are each given a day during Lent (Wednesday of the First Week of Lent, for example, is the church of Santa Maria Maggiore) and it has been custom since early centuries of the Church to travel there in pilgrimage that day and celebrate Mass (in the beginning, the Holy Father went to each church, and it was time to celebrate the unity of the apostolic Church).

The tradition continues to this day.  The Italians celebrate an evening Mass at the Station Church, and the American contingent in Rome, lead by the North American College’s priests and seminarians, celebrate a 7am Mass.  There is nothing like waking up in the darkness while the city still sleeps and making your pilgrimage to a different ancient church every morning.  (Even if that pilgrimage includes metro and buses, for those of us living on the outskirts of the city!)

Some of my happiest memories of 2005 and 2008 are from those early mornings.  Not only did the Station churches bring history alive, as we visited the tombs of saints and Popes, saw ancient excavations, and celebrated the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in the same place where saints and sinners have celebrated for two thousand years– it brought the universal Church alive as it strengthened the American community in the Eternal City.  What a blessing.

I was thrilled to find out that one of the priests at the North American College, Fr. Tim Laboe, is documenting the Station Churches this year on his blog — with video!  I encourage everyone to head on over to his blog and begin your virtual pilgrimage today.

PS I’m feeling rather R(h)ome-sick these days, so if you know of anyone who wants to travel to the Eternal City but is torn between the security-blanket of going with a group and the freedom of going alone, let them know that you know a great girl who’s willing to go as a personal tour guide.  Rates negotiable.