Every cathedral has a “cathedra,” a bishop’s chair that is used only by the bishop when he presides in the cathedral. It’s a symbol of his authority as chief teacher and liturgist of the diocese. So, today we celebrate the authority of the chief bishop, Saint Peter and his successors, the popes.
Being a man who wanted to experience things with all of his senses, Saint Francis decided one Christmas to depict the birth of Jesus with live animals and real people. This “first crèche” was created in Greccio in 1223. Our tradition of having a Christmas crèche in our homes and churches continues the practice begun all those years ago.
Following the ancient tradition within the Church of offering prayers for the faithful departed, today we offer our prayers for all of our deceased relatives and friends, trusting in the power of prayer and the infinite mercy of God.
Saint Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus was to be the turning point in his spiritual life. There he met Jesus and nothing was the same after that. Thereafter, all his zeal and energy were focused on the spread of the gospel message. We know him from his wonderful letters to the early Christian communities.
St. Peter Basilica is probably the most famous church in Christendom and the largest in the city of Rome. St. Paul Outside-the-Walls is second in size only to St. Peter’s. Built over the presumed graves of these two saints, they are attractive places of prayer for the faithful.
As the cathedral church of the diocese of Rome, Saint John Lateran is the cathedral of the pope, the bishop of Rome. Long before the Vatican was constructed, Saint John Lateran was the home of the popes and the focal point for the Church. Saint Francis visited Pope Innocent at the Lateran Palace.
Saint Mary Major is one of the four major churches in Rome known as patriarchal basilicas. It is the largest church in the world honoring Mary. This day is also known as the feast of Our Lady of the Snows because of the Blessed Mother's intercession during a crisis in that city.
Angels play an important role in Sacred Scripture as messengers of God. The belief that each person has a guardian angel watching over him or her is an extension of that role, and a reminder of God's never-failing providence.
Around the year 64, the city of Rome experienced a devastating fire. Emperor Nero blamed it on the Christians, and a severe persecution followed. Included in the mass murder of Christians were the First Martyrs of Rome. We don’t know their names, but their witness to the faith is certain.