14 March 2014

The station of the Twelve Apostles

When in 553 Teias, King of the Ostrogoths fell at the Battle of Mons Lactarius - thereby bringing to an end the Gothic Wars which had been fought since 535 - Pope Pelagius set to work building a church in honor of the Twelve Holy Apostles.The relics of the Apostles Philip and James the Less were placed beneath the altar, where they remain to this day.

The initial church was destroyed in by an earthquake in 1349. It was not until 1417 that the church was rebuilt by Pope Martin V. In 1463 the church was entrusted to the Franciscans and today it serves as the Generalate of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, who do excellent work in the church and parish for the salvation of souls. Another restoration of the church was begin in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV, himself a Franciscan. The interior of the church was restored again in 1714 and the present facade was completed in 1827:

When he died in 1564,Michelangelo's body was brought to this church and vested in the habit of Saint Francis of Assisi (the famed artist was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis), but his brother afterwards took his body to Florence.

Santi Apostoli is also famous because it was in this church that the exiled King of England and Prince of Wales, James III Stuart, the "Old Pretender," prayed each day until his death in 1766. He was laid in state here before being buried in St. Peter's. His throne was taken - and kept - from him because he refused to renounce the Catholic faith and become a Protestant.

I did not take pictures of the church this morning - save one - and intended to return this afternoon to do so (the church is just around the corner from the Casa Santa Maria), but another station Mass was being celebrated.

The painting in the apse depicts the martyrdom of Saints Philip and James:

I encourage you to take a few minutes to read the catecheses given by His Holiness Benedict XVI on the Apostle Philip and on the Apostle James the Less.

Some months back, when I was still settling in to Rome, I took a few pictures in the crypt of the church were the holy martyrs are entombed:


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