It was a quiet St. Patrick’s Day in Rome, well, at least at the Vatican, as far as I know! Today’s feast day was noted by Vatican Radio this morning and all those of Irish heritage were given a mention and wishes for a very Happy St. Patrick’s Day. There are plenty of pubs in Rome and I am guessing there will be some celebrating tonight – and wouldn’t it be nice if those festivities followed the 6 pm Mass at St. Patrick’s Church on Via Boncompagni.
Two images of St. Patrick (from Google images):
Tuesdays are often quiet in the Vatican as the Holy Father spends the day doing all the usual things such as saying morning Mass in the chapel of the Santa Marta residence, working on papers, letters, reports from Roman Curia offices, talking to his close collaborators and, oh yes, preparing for the Wednesday general audience!
I’ll bring you that report tomorrow, of course, but in the meantime I’d like to update you on the Lenten Station Churches of Rome (apologies for being remiss during the time I was gone), and also focus your attention on the talk given today by a good friend of mine, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva. You will find a Vatican Radio summary of his talk on the victims of the war in Syria, and a link to his entire address.
So often we think pronouncements from or about the Universal Church only come from Rome, from the Vatican, from the Holy Father. However, the Holy See has a commanding voice in many quarters, including her ambassadors accredited to nations and international organizations around the world, especially the offices and institutions of the United Nations at UN headquarters in New York and offices in Vienna, Geneva, Rome and other cities.
Here is the link to the Holy See Mission at the UN: http://www.holyseemission.org/
And a link to the Holy See Mission in Geneva: http://holyseemissiongeneva.org/
THE CHILDREN OF SYRIA: A LOST GENERATION?
(Vatican Radio) Archbishop Silvano Tomasi has warned that unless efforts are made to protect millions of children caught up in the Syrian conflict they are at risk of becoming a lost generation.
In an statement delivered on March 17 to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi, the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN in Geneva, made a series of recommendations following the release of the “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic”.
Noting that since the start of the crisis in Syria, “more than 10 million Syrians have fled their homes” Tomasi said this amounts to almost half of the country’s population “now deprived of their basic rights to shelter and adequate housing, security and human dignity”.
He pointed out that many are victims of human rights violations and abuses and are in urgent need of protective measures and support.
Tomasi also observed that “to compound this tragedy, more than 3 million people, most of them women and children, have fled the Syrian Arab Republic and are refugees in neighboring countries”.
He says that a variety of sources have provided evidence on how children suffer the brutal consequences of a persistent status of war in their country: “Children are recruited, trained and used in active combat roles, at times even as human shields in military attacks. The so-called Islamic State (ISIL) group has worsened the situation by training and using children as suicide bombers; killing children who belong to different religious and ethnic communities; selling children as slaves in markets; executing large numbers of boys; and committing other atrocities.”
And noting that in camps throughout the Middle East, children constitute approximately half of the refugee population and they are the most vulnerable demographic group in times of conflict and displacement, Tomasi said their lives in exile are full of uncertainty and daily struggles.
In his intervention Tomasi continues to focus on the lack of rights of children affected by the Syrian conflict calling on the world to deal with the situation of stateless children; to take stock of the fact that more than one and a half million students in refugee camps no longer receive an education; that the separation of family members destabilizes society and breaks down its basic social unit.
Archbishop Tomasi concluded his intervention with a call to protect these children giving them the right to a legal identity, to an adequate education and to a family.
Such measures, he said, require the close collaboration of all stakeholders. But, if the violence does not stop, he said, and the normal pace of education and development is not resumed, these children are at risk of becoming a lost generation.
And quoting Pope Francis during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he said: “May the violence cease and may humanitarian law be respected, thus ensuring much needed assistance to those who are suffering! May all parties abandon the attempt to resolve issues by the use of arms and return to negotiations. A solution will only be found through dialogue and restraint, through compassion for those who suffer, through the search for a political solution and through a sense of fraternal responsibility.”
See also Archbishop Tomasi’s statement on the use of force to defeat ISIS: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2015/03/13/0186/00415.html
From the website of the North American College on Lenten Station Churches:
The busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele II helps to recreate some of the bustle that must have been present in this area when this location held the stables of one of the chariot teams in ancient Rome. In time, these gave way to residential dwellings, one of which was the home of Pope St. Damasus. This holy man, famous for the epigraphs composed by him for the tombs of the various saints around Rome, converted the hall in his home into a church in honor of St. Lawrence.
His devotion to the saint may have begun during his years of service at the Basilica of St. Lawrence outside-the-Walls before his election to the papacy in 366. Although he won the election by a large majority, a faction supported another candidate, and a disagreement that sometimes descended into violence began between supporters of the two men until the matter was settled in St. Damasus’ favor.
While he spent much of his energy in supporting orthodox teaching against the attacks of the Arians, he also strove to adorn the shrines of the martyrs in this city, even writing verses in honor of the saints himself. He passed away in 384.
The first basilica on this site, built by Pope St. Damasus in the mid to late fourth century, had roughly the same orientation as the present one. As a result of it being near the former stables of the “Green” team of chariots, this church was also known as St. Lawrence in Prasino, this being the word for “leek green” in Latin. The basilica had a quiet history, there being some records of gifts given for the adornment of the church but not much else.
This church survived until the late fifteenth century when the new papal chancellery was built on the site. Although the old basilica was demolished to make way for the new building, it was desired that a replacement be included in the new chancellery. This was constructed between 1495 and 1511, although the basilica would receive several redecorations over the following centuries. The basilica would also be damaged on various occasions, notably during the Napoleonic occupation of Rome in 1798 and in a fire in 1939. The current appearance of the interior is largely due to the nineteenth century, with two major renovations in the periods 1807-1820 and 1868-1882, both of which are responsible for practically all that we see today, though there are some smaller components from previous periods.
And here is the page from the 2014 diary of seminarian Brian Lenz as he and others from NAC made their Lenten pilgrimage: http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/04/tuesday-of-fourth-week-san-lorenzo-in.html
Another very interesting page: http://zephyrinus-zephyrinus.blogspot.it/2015/03/lenten-station-at-basilica-of-saint_17.html