Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sun, Oct 14, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Covenant, Wisdom 7:7-11 ,Mark 10:17-30, Saint Calixtus, Catacomb of Calixtus, Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere

Sunday, October 14, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
Covenant, Wisdom 7:7-11 ,Mark 10:17-30, Saint Calixtus, Catacomb of Calixtus, Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere
Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!
Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  covenant   cov·e·nant  [kuhv-uh-nuhnt]

Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English  < Anglo-French, Old French,  noun use of present participle of covenir  < Latin convenīre  to come together, agree; see -ant

1. an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified.
2. Law . an incidental clause in such an agreement.
3. Ecclesiastical . a solemn agreement between the members of a church to act together in harmony with the precepts of the gospel.
4. ( initial capital letter ) History/Historical .
5. Bible .
a. the conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.
b. the agreement between God and the ancient Israelites, in which God promised to protect them if they kept His law and were faithful to Him.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Wisdom 7:7-11

7 And so I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me.
8 I esteemed her more than sceptres and thrones; compared with her, I held riches as nothing.
9 I reckoned no precious stone to be her equal, for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her, silver ranks as mud.
10 I loved her more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light, since her radiance never sleeps.
11 In her company all good things came to me, and at her hands incalculable wealth.


Today's Gospel  - Mark 10:17-30

Jesus calls the rich young man
The hundredfold in this life, but with persecutions!
Mark 10:17-30

Reading - Mark 10:17-30

a) A key to the reading:
• The Gospel of the 28th Sunday of ordinary time tells the story of a young man who asks Jesus for the way to eternal life. Jesus gives him an answer, but the young man cannot accept it because he is very rich. Wealth gives a kind of security to people and they have difficulty in giving up such security. Because such people are attached to the advantages that their possessions bring, they worry about defending their interests. The poor person does not have such worries and thus is freer. But there are poor people with a rich mentality. They are poor, but not “poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3). Not just wealth, but also the desire for wealth, can change people and make them slaves to the goods of this world. Such people would find it difficult to accept Jesus’ invitation: “Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me” (Mk 10:21) Such persons will not take the step suggested by Jesus. Am I able to leave everything for the Kingdom?

• In our text, several persons seek Jesus to ask him for advice: the rich young man, the disciples and Peter. In our reading let us look at the preoccupations of each of these persons and to Jesus’ reply to them.

b) A division of the text to help with the reading:
Mark 10:17: The request of the one who wishes to follow Jesus
Mark 10:18-19: Jesus’ surprising and demanding reply
Mark 10:20-21: The conversation between Jesus and the young man
Mark 10:22: The young man is alarmed and will not follow Jesus
Mark 10:23-27: The conversation between Jesus and his disciples concerning the rich entering the Kingdom
Mark 10:28: Peter’s question
Mark 10:29-30: Jesus’ reply

c) Gospel:  Mark 10:17-30
17 He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, 'Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' 18 Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. 19 You know the commandments: You shall not kill; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not give false witness; You shall not defraud; Honour your father and mother.' 20 And he said to him, 'Master, I have kept all these since my earliest days.' 21 Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him, and he said, 'You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.' 22 But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth. 23 Jesus looked round and said to his disciples, 'How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!' 24 The disciples were astounded by these words, but Jesus insisted, 'My children,' he said to them, 'how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for someone rich to enter the kingdom of God.' 26 They were more astonished than ever, saying to one another, 'In that case, who can be saved?' 27 Jesus gazed at them and said, 'By human resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God everything is possible.' 28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we have left everything and followed you.' 29 Jesus said, 'By human resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God everything is possible' 28 Peter took this up. 'Look,' he said to him, 'we have left everything and followed you.' 29 Jesus said, 'In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times as much, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land -- and persecutions too -- now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life.

A moment of prayerful silence so that the Word of God may penetrate and enlighten our life.

Some questions
to help us in our personal reflection.
a) What touched you most in this text? Why?
b) What worried the young man and what deceived him?
c) What does the following mean for us today: “Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor”? Can we take this literally?
d) How do we understand the comparison between the needle and the camel?
e) How do we understand the hundredfold in this life, but with persecutions?
f) How do we understand and practice today the suggestions made by Jesus to the rich young man?


a) The context of yesterday and of today.
* This Sunday’s Gospel describes the on-going conversion that, according to Jesus’ invitation, must take place in our relationship with material goods. So as to understand fully the importance of Jesus’ instructions, it is good to remember the wider context in which Mark places these texts. Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem, where he will be crucified (cf. Mk 8:27; 9:30.33; 10:1.17.32). He is about to give his life. He knows that soon he will be killed, but does not recoil. He says: “The Son of man himself came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many!” (Mk 10:45) This attitude of fidelity and dedication to the mission received from the Father makes it possible for him to see what really matters in life.
* Jesus’ suggestions are valid for all times, both for Jesus’ times and Mark’s times as well as for today in the 21st century. They are like mirrors that mirror back what is really important in life, yesterday and today: to start again, from the beginning, the building of the Kingdom, renewing human relationships on all levels, among ourselves and with God, as well as with material goods.

b) A commentary on the text:
Mark 10:17-19: The commandments and eternal life
Someone comes and asks: “Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Matthew’s Gospel says that it was a young man (Mt 19:20.22). Jesus replies rather harshly: “Why do you call me good. No one is good but God alone!” Jesus deflects attention from himself to God, since he wishes to do the Father’s will, so as to reveal the Father’s plan. Then Jesus says: “You know the commandments: you shall not kill, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false witness, honour your father and mother”. The young man had asked what he must do to inherit eternal life. He wanted to live close to God! But Jesus only reminds him of the commandments that concern to life close to the neighbour! He does not mention the first three commandments that talk of the relationship with God! For Jesus, we can only be in good stead with God if we are in good stead with the neighbour. We must not deceive ourselves. The gate that leads to God is our neighbour. There is no other!

Mark 10:20: What is the use of keeping the commandments?
The young man answers that he already had long observed the commandments. What follows is strange. The young man wanted to know the way to eternal life. Now, the way to eternal life was and still is: to do God’s will as expressed in the commandments. This means that the young man observed the commandments without knowing why! He did not know that his practice of observing the commandments since his youth was the way to God, to eternal life. Many Catholics today do not know why they are Catholic. ”I was born in Italy, I was born in Ireland, so I am Catholic!” Just a habit!

Mark 10:21-22: Sharing goods with the poor
Jesus looked steadily at him and he was filled with love for him and he said: ‘You need to do one thing more. Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me! Jesus does not judge the young man, does not criticize him, but seeks to help him take one more step in life. The conversion that Jesus asks for is an on-going one. The observance of the commandments is but the first step on a ladder that goes further and higher. Jesus asks for more! The observance of the commandments prepares us to be able to give ourselves completely to the neighbour. The Ten Commandments are the way to the perfect practice of the two commandments of love of God and of neighbour (Mk 12:29-31; Mt 7:12). Jesus asks a lot, but he asks it with much love. The young man does not accept Jesus’ invitation and goes away because “he was a man of great wealth”.

Mark 10:23-27: The camel and the eye of a needle
When the young man goes away, Jesus comments on his decision: How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! The disciples are astonished. Jesus repeats what he said and adds a proverb that was used then to say that something was humanly impossible. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God! Each nation has its expressions and proverbs that cannot be taken literally. For instance, in Brazil, to say that someone must not bother other people they say: “Go and take a bath!” If one takes this expression literally then one is deceived and is not aware of the message! The same may be said about the camel that has to go through the eye of a needle. Impossible!

The disciples are astonished by what Jesus says! This means that they had not understood Jesus’ answer to the rich young man: “Go and sell all you own, give the money to the poor, and come, follow me!” The young man had observed the commandments without understanding why. Something similar was happening to the disciples. To follow Jesus, they had left everything (Mk 1:18.20), without understanding why they had left everything! If they had understood the why, they would not have been so astonished by Jesus’ demands. When wealth or the desire for wealth takes over the human heart and vision, then it becomes difficult to understand the meaning of life and of the Gospel. Only God can help such a person! “ By human resources it is impossible, but not for God: because for God everything is possible”.

When Jesus says that it is almost impossible for “a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”, he is not referring in the first instance to entering heaven after death, but to entering the community around him. To this day, it is very difficult for a rich person to leave everything and enter into a small basic ecclesial community side by side with the poor, together with them, and so to follow Jesus.

Mark 10:28-30: The conversation between Jesus and Peter
Peter had understood that “to enter the kingdom of God” was the same thing as following Jesus in poverty. So he asks: “We have left everything and followed you. What then shall we get in return?” In spite of leaving everything, Peter still had the old mentality. He had not yet understood the meaning of service and gratuity. He and his companions left everything so as to have something in return: “What then shall we get in return?” Jesus’ reply is symbolic. He hints that they must not expect any return, any security, any promotion. They will receive a hundredfold, yes! But not without persecutions in this life! In the world to come they will have the eternal life of which the young man spoke. “In truth I tell you, there is no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children or land for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and land – and persecutions too – now in this present time and, in the world to come, eternal life 

c) Further information: 

Jesus and option for the poor
A double slavery marked the state of people in Galilee at the time of Jesus: (i) The political slavery of Herod, supported by the Roman Empire, that imposed a general organized system of exploitation and repression; (ii) The slavery of the official religion, upheld by the religious authorities of the time. Because of this, the family, the community, the clan were disintegrating and most people lived excluded, marginalized, with no fixed place, without a religion and without a society. To fight this disintegration of the community and the family, there were several movements, which, like Jesus, tried a new way of life and of living together in community. Such were the Essenes, the Pharisees and, later, the Zealots, all of whom lived in community. In Jesus’ community, however, there was something new and different from the other two groups. This was the attitude towards the poor and the excluded.

The community of Pharisees lived apart. The word “Pharisee” means “separate”. They lived apart from the impure people. Many Pharisees looked upon the people as ignorant and cursed (Jn 7:49), full of sin (Jn 9:34). They learnt nothing from the people (Jn 9:34). On the other hand, Jesus and his community lived among the excluded who were considered impure: publicans, sinners, prostitutes and lepers (Mk 2:16; 1:41; Lk 7:37). Jesus sees the richness and value they possess (Mt 11:25-26; Lk 21:1-4). He proclaimed the poor happy because the Kingdom belongs to them (Lk 6:20; Mt 5:3). He defines his own mission as “proclaiming the Good News to the poor” (Lk 4: 18). He lives like the poor. He owns nothing, not even a stone to lay his head upon (Lk 9:58). To those who wished to follow him he offered a choice: God or mammon! (Mt 6:24). He tells them to make choices in favour of the poor! (Mk 10:21) The poverty that characterizes Jesus’ life and that of his disciples, characterized also his mission. Contrary to other missionaries (Mt 23:15), Jesus’ disciples could not carry anything with them, no gold, no silver, no two tunics, no purse and no sandals (Mt 10:9-10). They had to trust in the hospitality of others (Lk 9:4; 10:5-6). And if they were made welcome by the people, they had to work like everyone else and live on what they earned (Lk 10:7-8). They had to look after the sick and needy (Lk 10:9; Mt 10:8). Then they could say to people: “The Kingdom of God is very near to you” (Lk 10:9).

On the other hand, when it is a matter of administering goods, what strikes us in Jesus’ parables is the seriousness that he demands in the use of these goods (Mt 25:21.26; Lk 19: 22-23). Jesus wants money to be at the service of life (Lk 16:9-13). For Jesus, poverty was not synonymous with laziness and negligence. This different witness in favour of the poor was what was missing in the popular movements of the times of the Pharisees, Essenes and Zealots. In the Bible, every time a movement arises to renew the Covenant, it begins by establishing once again the rights of the poor and excluded. Without this, the Covenant is impossible. Thus did the prophets and thus does Jesus. He denounces the old system that, in the name of God, excluded the poor. Jesus proclaims a new beginning that, in the name of God, gathers the excluded. This is the meaning and reason for the insertion of the mission of the Jesus’ community in the midst of the poor. He dips into the roots and inaugurates the New Covenant.

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Calixtus

Feast Day:  October 14
Patron Saint:  Cemetery workers

Pope Saint Callixtus I or Callistus I was pope from about 217 to about 222, during the reigns of the Roman Emperors Elagabalus and Alexander Severus. He was martyred for his Christian faith and is a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.

His contemporary and enemy, the author of Philosophumena (probably Hippolytus of Rome), relates that Callixtus, as a young slave, was put in charge of collected funds by his master Carpophorus, funds which were given as alms by other Christians for the care of widows and orphans; Callixtus lost the funds and fled from Rome, but was caught near Portus. According to the tale, Callixtus jumped overboard to avoid capture but was rescued and taken back to his master. He was released at the request of the creditors, who hoped he might be able to recover some of the money, but was rearrested for fighting in a synagogue when he tried to borrow money or collect debts from some Jews.

Philosophumena claims that, denounced as a Christian, Callixtus was sentenced to work in the mines of Sardinia. He was released with other Christians at the request of Hyacinthus, a eunuch presbyter, who represented Marcia, the favourite mistress of Emperor Commodus. At this time his health was so weakened that his fellow Christians sent him to Antium to recuperate and he was given a pension by Pope Victor I.  Callixtus was the deacon to whom Pope Zephyrinus entrusted the burial chambers along the Appian Way. In the third century, nine Bishops of Rome were interred in the Catacomb of Callixtus, in the part now called the Capella dei Papi. These catacombs were rediscovered by the archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849.

When Callixtus followed Zephyrinus as Bishop of Rome, he started to admit into the church converts from sects or schisms who had not done penance (as we learn from Hippolytus, Philosophoumena IX.7). It is an old error to suppose that Tertullian attacked this in his 'De pudicitia', but Tertullian is referring to the remission of sins, not to the reception of converts, and was probably writing ten years earlier; the bishop he criticizes is much more likely to be the bishop of Carthage than the bishop of Rome. Hippolytus also accused Callixtus of the heresy of Sabellianism, but since Callixtus excommunicated Sabellius, the charge was clearly false.

The Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere was a titulus of which Callixtus was the patron. In an apocryphal anecdote in the collection of imperial biographies called the Augustan History, the spot on which he had built an oratory was claimed by tavern keepers, but Alexander Severus decided that the worship of any god was better than a tavern, hence the structure's name. The 4th-century basilica of Ss Callixti et Iuliani was rebuilt in the 12th century by Pope Innocent II and rededicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The 8th-century Chiesa di San Callisto is close by, with its beginnings apparently as a shrine on the site of his martyrdom, which is attested in the 4th-century Depositio martyrum and so is likely to be historical.


It is possible that Callixtus was martyred around 222, perhaps during a popular uprising, but the legend that he was thrown down a well has no historical foundation, though the church does contain an ancient well. According to the apocryphal Acts of Saint Callixtus, Asterius, a priest of Rome, recovered the body of Callixtus after it had been tossed into a well and buried Callixtus' body at night.[2] Asterius was arrested for this action by the prefect Alexander and then killed by being thrown off a bridge into the Tiber River.[2]

Callixtus was honoured as a martyr in Todi, Italy, on 14 August. He was buried in the cemetery of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way and his anniversary is given by the 4th-century Depositio Martirum and by subsequent martyrologies on 14 October. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates his optional memorial on 14 October. His relics were translated in the 9th century to Santa Maria in Trastevere.[3]


  1. Jones, Tery M.. "Pope Saint Callistus I". Star Quest Publication Network. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  2. ^ a b Sabine Baring-Gould, The Lives of the Saints. Vol. 2. (J. Hodges, 1877). Digitized 6 June 2007. Page 506.
  3. ^ "Pope Callistus I". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today Snippet I: Catacomb of Callixtus

The Catacomb(s) of Callixtus (also known as the Cemetery of Callixtus) was one of the Catacombs of Rome on the Appian Way, most notable for containing the Crypt of the Popes (Italian: Capella dei Papi), which contained the tombs of several popes from the 2nd to 4th centuries. The crypt fell into disuse and decay as the remaining relics were translated from the catacombs to the various churches of Rome; the final wave of translations from the crypt occurred under Pope Sergius II in the 9th century before the Lombard invasion, primarily to San Silvestro in Capite, which unlike the Catacomb was within the Aurelian Walls.

The Catacomb is believed to have been created by future Pope Callixtus I, then a deacon of Rome, under the direction of Pope Zephyrinus, enlarging pre-existing early Christian hypogea. Callixtus himself was entombed in the Catacomb of Calepodius on the Aurelian Way. The Catacomb and Crypt were rediscovered in 1854 by the pioneering Italian archaeologist Giovanni Battista de Rossi.

Papal tombs

At its peak, the fifteen hectare site would have held the remains of sixteen popes and fifty martyrs. Nine of those popes were buried in the Crypt of the Popes itself, to which Pope Damasus I built a staircase in the 4th century. Among the discovered Greek language inscriptions are those associated with: Pope Pontian, Pope Anterus, Pope Fabian, Pope Lucius I, and Pope Eutychian. A more lengthy inscription to Pope Sixtus II by Furius Dionisius Filocalus has also been discovered.

Outside the Crypt of the Popes, the region of Saints Gaius and Eusebius is so named for the facing tombs of Pope Gaius ("Caius") and Pope Eusebius (translated from Sicily). In another region, there is a tomb attributed to Pope Cornelius, bearing the inscription "CORNELIVS MARTYR", also attributed to Filocalus.  A plaque placed by Pope Sixtus III (c. 440) lists the following popes: Sixtus II, Dionysius, Cornelius, Felix, Pontianus, Fabianus, Gaius, Eusebius, Melchiades, Stephen, Urban I, Lucius, and Anterus, a list not including any 2nd century tombs. The Crypt of the Popes quickly filled up in the 4th century, causing other popes to be buried in related catacombs, such as the Catacomb of Priscilla (underneath San Martino ai Monti), the Catacomb of Balbina (only Pope Mark), the Catacomb of Calepodius (only Pope Callixtus I and Pope Julius I), the Catacomb of Pontian (only Pope Anastasius I and Pope Innocent I, father and son), and the Catacomb of Felicitas (only Pope Boniface I).


Today Snippet II:  Basilica Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Our Lady in Trastevere (Italian: Basilica di Santa Maria in Trastevere) is a titular minor basilica, one of the oldest churches in Rome, and perhaps the first in which Mass was openly celebrated. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Calixtus and later completed by Julius I


The inscription on the episcopal throne states that it is the first church dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. In its founding it is certainly one of the oldest churches in the city. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, an asylum for retired soldiers. The area was given over to Christian use by the Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers, saying, according to the Liber Pontificalis "I prefer that it should belong to those who honor God, whatever be their form of worship." In 340 Pope Julius I (337-352) rebuilt the titulus Callixti on a larger scale, and it became the titulus Iulii commemorating his patronage, one of the original twenty-five parishes in Rome; indeed it may be the first church in which Mass was celebrated openly.

It underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries. In 1140-43 the church was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II. Innocent II razed the church to the ground, along with the recently completed tomb of his former rival, Pope Anacletus II, and arranged for his own burial on the spot formerly occupied by that tomb.

The richly carved Ionic capitals reused along its nave were taken either from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla or the nearby Temple of Isis on the Janiculum. When scholarship during the nineteenth century identified the faces in their carved decoration as Isis, Serapis and Harpocrates, a restoration under Pius IX in 1870 hammered off the offending faces.

The predecessor of the present church was probably built in the early fourth century although that church was the successor to one of the tituli, those Early Christian basilicas that were ascribed to a patron and perhaps literally inscribed with his name. Though nothing remains to establish with certainty where any of the public Christian edifices of Rome before the time of Constantine the Great were situated, the basilica on this site was known as Titulus Callisti, since a legend in the Liber Pontificalis ascribed the earliest church here to a foundation by Pope Callixtus I (died 222), whose remains, translated to the new structure, are preserved under the altar.


13th-century mosaics in the apse

The present nave preserves its original (pre-12th century) basilica plan and stands on the earlier foundations. The 22 granite columns with Ionic and Corinthian capitals that separate the nave from the aisles came from the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla, as did the lintel of the entrance door.

Inside the church are a number of late 13th-century mosaics by Pietro Cavallini on the subject of the Life of the Virgin (1291) centering on a "Corontation of the Virgin" in the apse. Domenichino's octagonal ceiling painting, Assumption of the Virgin (1617) fits in the coffered ceiling setting that he designed.

The fifth chapel to the left is the Avila Chapel designed by Antonio Gherardi. This, and his Chapel of S. Cecilia in San Carlo ai Catinari are two of the most architecturally inventive chapels of the late seventeenth century in Rome. The lower order of the chapel is fairly dark and employs Borromini-like forms. In the dome, there is an opening or oculus from which four putti emerge to carry a central tempietto, all of which frames a light-filled chamber above, illuminated by windows not visible from below.

The church keeps a relic of Saint Apollonia, her head, as well as a portion of the Holy Sponge. Among those buried in the church are the relics of Pope Callixtus I, Antipope Anacletus II, and Cardinal Lorenzo Campeggio.


12th-century mosaic of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus flanked by 10 women holding lamps.
The Romanesque campanile is from the 12th century. Near the top, a niche protects a mosaic of the Madonna and Child.  The mosaics on the facade are probably from the 12th century. They depict the Madonna enthroned and suckling the Child, flanked by ten women holding lamps. This image on the facade showing Mary nursing Jesus is an early example of a popular late medieval and renaissance type of image of the Virgin. The motif itself originated much earlier, with significant seventh-century Coptic examples at Wadi Natrun in Egypt.

The façade of the church was restored by Carlo Fontana in 1702, who replaced the ancient porch with a sloping tiled roof— seen in Falda's view— with the present classicizing one. The octagonal fountain in the piazza in front of the church (Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere), which already appears in a map of 1472, was also restored by Carlo Fontana.

The Titulus

Ancient sources maintain that the titulus S. Mariae was established by Pope Alexander I around 112. Later traditions give the names of the early patrons of the tituli and have retrospectively assigned them the title of cardinal: thus at that time, the cardinal-patron of this basilica, these traditions assert, would have been Saint Calepodius. Pope Calixtus I confirmed the titulus in 221; to honor him it was changed into Ss. Callisti et Iuliani; it was renamed S. Mariae trans Tiberim by Innocent II.

By the 12th century cardinal deacons as well as the presbyters had long been dispensed from personal service at the tituli. Among the past Cardinal Priests holding the honorary titulus of Santa Maria in Trastevere, have been the Cardinal Duke of York (whose coat of arms, topped by a crown rather than a galero (red hat), is visible over the screen to the right of the altar), James Gibbons and Pope Leo XII. Józef Glemp is the current Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Mariae trans Tiberim.


    • Reardon, Wendy J. 2004. The Deaths of the Popes. Macfarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-1527-4
    • Carragáin, Éamonn Ó; Neuman de Vegvar, Carol L. (2007). Roma felix: formation and reflections of medieval Rome. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.. pp. 59. ISBN 0-7546-6096-6. Retrieved May 26, 2009.