The Church across the River


Porches are great. But the porch of Santa Maria in Trastevere has something to teach us.  


Salvete omnes. I'm Lindsey Scholl and welcome again to "The Roman Minute," where you can sample a little bit of Rome in around a minute. You already know that Rome is a complex reality containing everything from a Republic, an Empire, a Late Empire, the Roman Catholic Church, and so many church buildings. The Christian idea of a church is a body of a believing people, rather than a building, but the buildings inevitably give us an idea of what the people believed.

Today I want to show you a particular church, Santa Maria Trastevere. This church is on the other side of the Tiber from some of the more famous monuments in Rome. Inside, this 13th-century mosaic is a stunning, if troubling, depiction of medieval mariology, with Mary actually sharing the throne with Jesus. But in the porch outside, there's a collection of much older tombstone fragments, some of them from the Roman Christian era. This figure on the left is called an "orans," Latin for "praying man." Before Christians folded our hands, we prayed like this. On the bottom right of this one, you can see the famous Chi Rho, and right in front of that you can see "In Pace," or '"n Peace," a common phrase for Christian burials.

That's just an introduction to the wonders of this church across the Tiber. If you're ever in Rome, have a look. I'm Dr. Lindsey Scholl, bringing you the Roman Minute and wishing you Pax Christi.