This Ash Wednesday, we invite you to join us in our annual observance of the Lenten Roman Stational Churches. Each day at Our Lady’s altar, Mass begins at a shrine representing the Stational Churches of Rome. The shrine designates where that day’s papal liturgy will take place, thereby uniting our Lenten Eucharistic sacrifice with Rome.
This practice dates from fourth century Jerusalem. Pope St. Gregory the Great standardized the Stational Churches in Rome around the year 600, and since that time, they have, with few exceptions, remained the same.
The faithful then observed the “stations” by first gathering with the clergy of Rome at a specified church in the city called the collecta (“gathering place”). They walked in procession to the shrine of an apostle or martyr at the stational church, the daily statio (“standing place”), designated for that day. The word statio derives from the Latin verb sto, “to stand” and signified how early Christians gathered and “stood with” the local clergy, bishop, patriarch or the pope himself in this special procession and liturgy. Statio also was a Roman military term meaning “military post,” to which St. Ambrose once made reference in a sermon when he said, “Our fasts are our encampments against the attacks of the devil.” Statio, therefore, also means a vigilant commitment to conversion and to prayer.
The Canons Regular of St. John Cantius have a deep devotion to the Lord’s Passion and, because observance of the traditional Lenten Stational Churches had been an integral part of Lenten observances here at St. John Cantius Church long before the community was founded, it has always played an important role in Lenten customs. It is one way to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Lord’s Passion during this sacred season.
You can also follow the Stational Churches of Rome on this website.