Coming to Rome? Check out The Catholic Traveler’s Guide to Rome.
Today’s station church, Sant’Anastasia is one of the original twenty five titular churches. The church was built by a wealthy woman named Anastasia in the fourth century. Though the original church was named for her, Titulus Anastasiae, today’s church is named after the fourth century virgin martyr of the same name.
Saint Anastasia was a Roman of noble descent. During the Diocletian persecutions she would visit Christian prisoners to consul them. One Christian she would visit was Saint Chrysogonus. She thought it an honor to be of service to him. After he and many others were killed, she wept. She was arrested for being Christian and taken before the emperor. He and several others tried to convince her to denounce her faith, but she would not. She was sentenced to death by starvation. When she did not die in one prison, she was moved to another. When she still would not die, she was put out to sea on a boat. The boat was full of holes and meant to sink, but it did not. Instead the boat washed ashore. She was finally martyred by being staked to the ground and burned. We remember her in the Canon of the Mass:
For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, with John the Baptist, Stephan, Matthias, Barnabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Marcellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia, and all the saints.
Inside the church is an ancient altar. Tradition tells us that Saint Jerome celebrated Mass at this very altar and that Pope Saint Gregory the Great distributed ashes here on Ash Wednesday. The first titular, or head, of this church was in fact Saint Jerome. An interesting fact since the title of titular is usually reserved for cardinals, which he was not. He was given the title posthumously in the thirteenth century because of his connections to the church. A chalice he used for Mass is preserved here.