During our Christmas Lockdown, we have a few days we are allowed to leave the home for any reason. These are called “orange” days. On “red” days we can only leave for approved reasons, like groceries, exercise, and Mass, and always with a form we must fill out explaining where we are going and why, in case we are stopped by the police.
For our “orange” day we wanted to visit a few favorite churches.
Though indoor and seated drinking and dining is banned throughout the Christmas Lockdown, coffee to go is still an option. So our first stop was Foodie in the Lateran area for cappuccino.
Speaking of colors, the Lockdown is not very green. What will be around longer, this 2,000 year old wall or this styrofoam cup?
A gorgeous day in Parco Carlo Felice.
A visit to a favorite church, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
This church is built over the home of Queen Helena. She traveled to Jerusalem and brought to Rome many relics from the Life of Christ, like the True Cross, which is on display in this church.
Antonietta Meo was a parishioner of this church. She died at only six years old after suffering for years with bone cancer. She has a powerful story, which is why she is now Venerable and buried in this church. Notice my kids with their ears to the tomb. Those who work in the church claim that they sometimes hear her moving around and playing with her toys, which are also in this room. We didn’t hear anything on our visit.
Next we headed to the cathedral of Rome, Saint John Lateran.
The Lateran has a beautiful nativity. Look at those details.
Across the street is my favorite thing to do in Rome, the Scala Santa. These are the stairs Christ climbed when He was condemned to death. As they are included in several of my day tours, in normal times, I am often here twice a day, five or six days a week. Sadly, this was only my second time here since March. Often packed with people, shoulder to shoulder, the church now has some required
social prayerful distancing measures in place.
Nearby, an art store sells this passed out / napping Mary. I think all nativities need one of these.
Our last stop of the day, Saint Mary Major, the Bethlehem of Rome. Deserted on the fourth day of Christmas.
This church has the relics of the Holy Manger. Brought to Rome under our first Palestinian Pope, Pope Theodore. Contrary to some poor reporting last year, Pope Francis did not give these relics back to Bethlehem. Instead, he returned a very small portion. Rome still has five large boards, on display year round below the main altar. Masses are celebrated here in the 7 AM hour most days.
In addition to wanting to visit the Holy Manger on Christmas, we also wanted to see the nativity. This nativity was built for this church in 1292 by Arnolfo di Cambio. It is considered the first marble nativity scene. Originally it contained more figures, but some were lost during the building of this chapel. For years this has been on display in the Saint Mary Major museum, but it was just recently returned to its home in the Nativity Chapel, better known as the Sistine Chapel, of Saint Mary Major. Hopefully the move is permanent.
Also in the Sistine Chapel is this incredible, newly renovated, bronze tabernacle.
Remember, when visiting churches… always look up.