Santa Maria Maggiore
It’s the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. I have to confess, that I haven’t been very religious in my adult life. I consider myself to be more spiritual, than religious. It’s been awhile since I attended a temple or synagogue for the High Holiday services. I have enjoyed it when I’ve gone, but it’s just not something I’ve found myself seeking out, of my own accord.
My spirit though, knows it’s a time for reflection, because I’ve found myself wanting to go visit several churches on the first and second days of Rosh Hashanah.
Yesterday, on the first day of the New Year, I went to see Santa Maria Maggiore. It’s considered to be Rome’s finest Early Christian basilica, dating back to 430 AD. The campanile (bell tower) is the tallest in Rome, having been added in 1377. Major renovations occurred to the basilica in the 13th and 18th centuries. The coffered ceiling was reputedly gilded with the first gold to arrive from the New World, a gift from Spain to Pope Alexander VI.
Pio IX Pontifici Maximo
I found myself in awe at the grandeur and size of the basilica. But probably what caught my eye the most, was a small chapel located just in front of and below the main chapel. Accessible by a set of stairs, it contained a statue of Pio IX Pontifici Maximo kneeling in prayer. I have to confess, I googled him and can’t quite figure out who he was, but the statue of him was magnificent.
In this small lower chapel, which seemed to be encased in gold, there was also a small podium off to the side. It contained envelopes so you could request a mass to be said either solely for your intentions or to have your intentions included as part of a group mass. The cost for your own mass was 10 euro and any donation could get your intention stated as part of a group mass.
The Lower Chapel
I didn’t really understand what this all meant…being a Jewish woman on the high holidays in a Catholic church, but I felt compelled to ask for a prayer and intention, and so I did. I trust that my request was made, and I am grateful for all the help I can get in this life.
Stay tuned for day two.
Doors to the Basilica
The gilded ceiling
Inside the Basilica