Friday, November 9, 2012

Thur, Nov 8, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Hagiology, Philippians 3:3-8, Psalms 105:2-7, Luke 15:1-10, St. Castorius, Four Crowned Martyrs, Caelian Hill

Thursday, November 8, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog:
Hagiology, Philippians 3:3-8, Psalms 105:2-7, Luke 15:1-10, St. Castorius,  Four Crowned Martyrs, Caelian Hill

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


November 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children, as a mother I implore you to persevere as my apostles. I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God’s truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son. I am praying that you may witness the love of the Heavenly Father according to my Son. My children, great grace has been given to you to be witnesses of God’s love. Do not take the given responsibility lightly. Do not sadden my motherly heart. As a mother I desire to rely on my children, on my apostles. Through fasting and prayer you are opening the way for me to pray to my Son for Him to be beside you and for His name to be holy through you. Pray for the shepherds because none of this would be possible without them. Thank you." 

October 25, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children! Today I call you to pray for my intentions. Renew fasting and prayer because Satan is cunning and attracts many hearts to sin and perdition. I call you, little children, to holiness and to live in grace. Adore my Son so that He may fill you with His peace and love for which you yearn. Thank you for having responded to my call." ~ Blessed Virgin Mary

October 02, 2012 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:

"Dear children; I am calling you and am coming among you because I need you. I need apostles with a pure heart. I am praying, and you should also pray, that the Holy Spirit may enable and lead you, that He may illuminate you and fill you with love and humility. Pray that He may fill you with grace and mercy. Only then will you understand me, my children. Only then will you understand my pain because of those who have not come to know the love of God. Then you will be able to help me. You will be my light-bearers of God’s love. You will illuminate the way for those who have been given eyes but do not want to see. I desire for all of my children to see my Son. I desire for all of my children to experience His Kingdom. Again I call you and implore you to pray for those whom my Son has called. Thank you."
~ Blessed Virgin Mary


Today's Word:  hagiology  hag·i·ol·o·gy [hag-ee-ol-uh-jee]

Origin:  1800–10; hagio-  + -logy
noun, plural hag·i·ol·o·gies for 2, 3.
1. the branch of literature dealing with the lives and legends of the saints.
2. a biography or narrative of a saint or saints.
3. a collection of such biographies or narratives.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 105:2-7

2 Sing to him, make music for him, recount all his wonders!
3 Glory in his holy name, let the hearts that seek Yahweh rejoice!
4 Seek Yahweh and his strength, tirelessly seek his presence!
5 Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders, the judgements he has spoken.
6 Stock of Abraham, his servant, children of Jacob whom he chose!
7 He is Yahweh our God, his judgements touch the whole world.


Today's Epistle -  Philippians 3:3-8

3 We are the true people of the circumcision since we worship by the Spirit of God and make Christ Jesus our only boast, not relying on physical qualifications,
4 although, I myself could rely on these too. If anyone does claim to rely on them, my claim is better.
5 Circumcised on the eighth day of my life, I was born of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents. In the matter of the Law, I was a Pharisee;
6 as for religious fervour, I was a persecutor of the Church; as for the uprightness embodied in the Law, I was faultless.
7 But what were once my assets I now through Christ Jesus count as losses.
8 Yes, I will go further: because of the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, I count everything else as loss. For him I have accepted the loss of all other things, and look on them all as filth if only I can gain Christ


Today's Gospel Reading - Luke 15:1-10

The tax collectors and sinners, however, were all crowding round to listen to Jesus, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, 'This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.'  So he told them this parable: 'Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it? And when he found it, would he not joyfully take it on his shoulders and then, when he got home, call together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found my sheep that was lost." In the same way, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner repenting than over ninety-nine upright people who have no need of repentance. 'Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours, saying to them, "Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost." In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner.

• The Gospel today presents the first one of three parables united among themselves by one same word. It is a question of three things which were lost: the lost sheep (Lk 15, 3-7), the lost drachma (Lk 15, 8-10), and the lost son (Lk 15.11-32). The three parables are addressed to the Pharisees and to the Doctors of the Law who criticized Jesus (Lk 15, 1-3). That is, they are addressed to the Pharisee and to the Scribe or doctor of the Law which is in each one of us.

• Luke 15, 1-3: Those to whom the parables are addressed. The first three verses describe the context in which the three parables were pronounced: “At that time, the tax collectors and sinners were all crowding round to listen to him. The Pharisees and Scribes complained”. On one side there were the tax collectors and the sinners; on the other the Pharisees and the Doctors of the Law. Luke speaks exaggerating somewhat: “The tax collectors and the sinners were all crowding round to listen to Jesus”. There was something in Jesus which attracted them. It is the word of Jesus which attracts them (cf. Is 50, 4). They want to listen to him. This is a sign that they do not feel condemned, but rather they feel accepted by him. The criticism of the Pharisees and the Scribes is the following: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” When sending out the seventy-two disciples (Lk 10, 1-9), Jesus had ordered them to accept the excluded, the sick, the possessed (Mt 10, 8; Lk 10, 9) and to gather them for the banquet (Lk 10, 8).

• Luke 15, 4: The Parable of the lost sheep. The parable of the lost sheep begins with a question: “Which one of you with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the missing one till he found it?” Before giving a response, Jesus must have looked around to see who was listening to him to see how they would have answered. The question is formulated in such a way that the response can only be a positive one: “Yes, he will go after the lost sheep!” And you, how would you answer? Would you leave the ninety-nine in the field to go and look for the only one which got lost? Who would do this? Probably, the majority would have answered: “Jesus, who among us? Nobody would do such an absurd thing. The proverb says: “Better one bird in the hand than one hundred flying around!”

• Luke 15, 5-7: Jesus interprets the parable of the lost sheep. Now, in the parable the shepherd does that which nobody would do: to leave everything and to go and look for the lost sheep. God alone can assume such an attitude! Jesus wants that we become aware, conscious of the Pharisee or the Scribe which is in each one of us, The Pharisees and the Scribes abandoned the sinners and excluded them. They would have never gone to look for the lost sheep. They would have allowed it to get lost in the desert. They preferred the ninety-nine. But Jesus places himself in the place of the sheep which got lost and, which in that context of the official religion, would fall into despair, without the hope of being accepted. Jesus makes them and us know: “If you feel that you are a lost sinner, remember that for God you are worth more than the other ninety-nine sheep. And in case that you are converted, know that there will be “greater joy in heaven for a sinner who is converted, than for ninety-nine just who do not need conversion”.

• Luke 15, 8-10: Parable of the lost drachma. The second Parable: "Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly till she found it? And then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbours saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner’”. God rejoices with us. The angels rejoice with us. The parable serves to communicate hope to those who were threatened with despair because of the official religion. This message recalls what God tells us in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: "Look, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands!” (Is 49, 16). “Since, I regard you as precious, since you are honoured and I love you!” (Is 43, 4).

Personal questions
• Would you go out to look for the lost sheep?
• Do you think that today the Church is faithful to this parable of Jesus?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Castorius

Feast Day:  November 8
Patron Saint:  sculptors, stonemasons, stonecutters

St. Castorius is the patron saint of sculptors and his feast day is November 8th. Castorius, Claudius, Nicostratus, and Symphorian are called "the four crowned martyrs" who were tortured and executed in Pannonia, Hungary during the reign of Diocletian. According to legend, they were employed as carvers at Sirmium (Mitrovica, Yugoslavia) and impressed Diocletian with their art, as did another carver, Simplicius. Diocletian commissioned them to do several carvings, which they did to his satisfaction, but they then refused to carve a statue of Aesculapius, as they were Christians. The emperor accepted their beliefs, but when they refused to sacrifice to the gods, they were imprisoned. When Diocletian's officer Lampadius, who was trying to convince them to sacrifice to the gods, suddenly died, his relatives accused the five of his death; to placate the relatives, the emperor had them executed. Another story has four unnamed Corniculari beaten to death in Rome with leaden whips when they refused to offer sacrifice to Aesculapius. They were buried on the Via Lavicana and were later given their names by Pope Militiades. Probably they were the four Pannonian martyrs (not counting Simplicius) whose remains were translated to Rome and buried in the Four Crowned Ones basilica there. A further complication is the confusion of their story with that of the group of martyrs associated with St. Carpophorus in the Roman Martyrology under November 8th.


      • William Granger Ryan Jacobus, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints (Princeton University Press, 1993), 291-2.


          Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


          Today's  Snippet  I:  Four Crowned Martyrs

          The designation Four Crowned Martyrs or Four Holy Crowned Ones (in Latin, Sancti Quatuor Coronati) actually refers to 9 separate martyrs, divided into two groups:
          Group 1: Severus (or Secundius), Severian(us), Carpophorus (Carpoforus), Victorinus (Victorius, Vittorinus)

          Group 2: Claudius, Castorius, Symphorian (Simpronian), Nicostratus, and Simplicius
          According to the Golden Legend, the names of the members of the first group were not known at the time of their death “but were learned through the Lord’s revelation after many years had passed."

          They were called the "Four Crowned Martyrs" because their names were unknown ("crown" referring to the crown of martyrdom).

          First Group

          Severus (or Secundius), Severian(us), Carpophorus, Victorinus were martyred at Rome or Castra Albana, according to Christian tradition. According to the Passion of St. Sebastian, the four saints were soldiers (specifically cornicularii, or clerks in charge of all the regiment's records and paperwork) who refused to sacrifice to Aesculapius, and therefore were killed by order of Emperor Diocletian (284-305), two years after the death of the five sculptors. The bodies of the martyrs were buried in the cemetery of Santi Marcellino e Pietro, on the fourth mile of via Labicana, by Pope Miltiades and St Sebastian (whose skull is preserved in the church).

          Second Group

          The second group, according to Christian tradition, were sculptors from Sirmium who were killed in Pannonia. They refused to fashion a pagan statue for the Emperor Diocletian or to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. The Emperor ordered them to be placed alive in lead coffins and thrown into the sea, about 287. Simplicius was killed with them. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "the Acts of these martyrs, written by a revenue officer named Porphyrius probably in the fourth century, relates of the five sculptors that, although they raised no objections to executing such profane images as Victoria, Cupid, and the Chariot of the Sun, they refused to make a statue of Æsculapius for a heathen temple. For this they were condemned to death as Christians. They were put into leaden caskets and drowned in the River Save. This happened towards the end of 305."

          Joint Veneration

          When the names of the first group were learned, it was decreed that they should be commemorated with the second group. The bodies of the First Group were interred by St Sebastian and Pope Melchiades (Miltiades) at the third milestone on the Via Labicana, in a sandpit where rested the remains of other executed Christians. According to tradition, since the names of the four martyred soldiers could not be authentically established, Pope Melchiades commanded that, since the date of their deaths (November 8) was the same as that of the second group, their anniversary should be celebrated on that day. 

           It is unclear where the names of the second group actually come from. The tradition states that Melchiades asked that the saints be commemorated as Claudius, Nicostratus, Simpronian, and Castorius. These same names actually are identical to names shared by converts of Polycarp the priest, in the legend of St. Sebastian.

          According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "this report has no historic foundation. It is merely a tentative explanation of the name Quatuor Coronati, a name given to a group of really authenticated martyrs who were buried and venerated in the catatomb of Sts. Peter and Marcellinus, the real origin of which, however, is not known. They were classed with the five martyrs of Pannonia in a purely external relationship." The bodies of the martyrs are kept in four ancient sarcophagi in the crypt of Santi Marcellino e Pietro. According to a lapid dated 1123, the head of one of the four martyrs is buried in Santa Maria in Cosmedin.

          Confusion and Conclusions

          Problems arise with determining the historicity of these martyrs because one group contains five names instead of four. Alban Butler believed that the four names of Group One, which the Roman Martyrology and the Breviary say were revealed as those of the Four Crowned Martyrs, were borrowed from the martyrology of the diocese of Albano Laziale, which kept their feast on August 8, not November 8. These "borrowed" four martyrs were not buried in Rome, but in the catacomb of Albano; their feast was celebrated on August 7 or August 8, the date under which it is cited in the Roman Calendar of Feasts of 354. The Catholic Encyclopedia wrote that "these martyrs of Albano have no connection with the Roman martyrs".
          The double tradition may have arisen because a second passio had to be written. It was written to account for the fact that there were five saints in Group 2 rather than four. Thus, the story concerning Group 1 was simply invented, and the story describes the death of four martyrs, who were soldiers from Rome rather than Pannonian stonemasons. The Bollandist Hippolyte Delehaye calls this invented tradition "l'opprobre de l'hagiographie" (the disgrace of hagiography).
          Delehaye, after extensive research, determined that there was actually only one group of martyrs – the stonemasons of Group 2 - whose relics were taken to Rome. One scholar has written that “the latest research tends to agree” with Delehaye's conclusion. The Roman Martyrology gives the stonemasons Simpronianus, Claudius, Nicostratus, Castorius and Simplicius as the martyrs celebrated on November 8, and the Albano martyrs Secundus, Carpophorus, Victorinus and Severianus as celebrated on 8 August.

          Caelian Hill

          Schematic map of Rome showing the seven hills and Servian wall
          The Caelian Hill (Latin Collis Caelius, Italian Celio) is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Under reign of Tullus Hostilius, the entire population of Alba Longa was forcibly resettled on the Caelian Hill. According to a tradition recounted by Titus Livy, the hill received its name from Caelius Vibenna, either because he established a settlement there or because his friend Servius Tullius wished to honor him after his death.

          In Republican-era Rome the Caelian Hill was a fashionable residential district and the site of residences of the wealthy. Archeological work under the Baths of Caracalla have uncovered the remains of lavish villas complete with murals and mosaics. The Caelian is also the site of the Basilica of Santi Giovanni e Paolo and the ancient basilica of Santo Stefano Rotondo, known for its centralized, circular plan. A significant area of the hill is taken up by the villa and gardens of Villa Celimontana.

          Santi Giovanni e Paolo, Rome

          Santi Giovanni e Paolo
          Santi Giovanni e Paolo is an ancient basilica church in Rome, located on the Celian Hill. It is also called Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio or referred to as SS Giovanni e Paolo. The church was built in 398, by will of senator Pammachius, over the home of two Roman soldiers, John and Paul, martyred under Julian in 362. The church was thus called the Titulus Pammachii and is recorded as such in the acts of the synod held by Pope Symmachus in 499. The church was damaged during the sack by Alaric I (410) and because of an earthquake (442), restored by Pope Paschal I (824), sacked again by the Normans (1084), and again restored, with the addition of a monastery and a bell tower.  It is home to the Passionists and is the burial place of St. Paul of the Cross. Additionally, it is the station church of the first Friday in Lent.

          The inside has three naves, with pillars joined to the original columns. The altar is built over a bath, which holds the remains of the two martyrs.The apse is frescoed with Christ in Glory (1588) by Cristoforo Roncalli (one of the painters called il Pomarancio) [1588]; while below are three paintings: Martyrdom of Saint John, Martyrdom of Saint Paul, and the Conversion of Terenziano (1726) by Domenico Piastrini, Giacomo Triga, and Pietro Andrea Barbieri respectively. The sacristy features a canvas by Antoniazzo Romano of the Madonna & Child with Saints John the Evangelist & John the Baptist, and Saints Jerome & Paul. Below the nave, thus under the church, some ancient Roman rooms, dating back to the 1st-4th century, were found during 19th century excavations. According to the writer Charlotte Anne Eaton, these rooms were dens that were part of a vivarium in which wild animals were kept before being used in entertainments held at the Colosseum. A low vaulted passage connected this vivarium with the Colosseum.

          The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus Ss. Ioannis et Pauli is Edward Egan. Among previous Cardinal Priests of this Title are 2 who became Pope: Pope Honorius III (Cencio Savelli, elevated to cardinal in 1198) and Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli, elevated to cardinal in 1929). Since Francis Spellman became the next Cardinal Priest of the titulus in 1946 (after it had been vacated by Pacelli's election to the papacy in 1939), it has been held by cardinals who were Archbishops of New York. In 2012, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York was elevated to cardinal and assigned a different title, because Cardinal Edward Egan, the first-ever archbishop emeritus of New York, still had the title of Ss. Giovanni e Paolo.

          At the end of the right aisle is the entrance to the underground sites of the basilica, discovered in 1887 by Father Germano da San Stanislao, who at the time was rector of the Basilica, and was searching for the tombs of the martyrs John and Paul; he found twenty decorated rooms belonging to at least five different buildings dated between the 1st and the 4th century AD. These five buildings comprise one of the best conserved roman era residential building complexes still standing today, and one of the best examples of domus ecclesiae ("house church") (together with Dûra Éuropos): the original frescoes can still be seen, with scenes of the martyrdom.

          In one room, which was a nymphaeum courtyard, an elegant 3rd century AD fresco depicting Proserpine and other divinities among cherubs in a boat (3x5 meters) can be found, as can traces of another marine fresco and mosaics in the window arches. Between the 3rd and the 4th century AD some modifications were made to the rooms, and a sort of oratory was made, with Christian-themed frescoes, while in the other rooms the decorations did not specifically have Christian themes (winged genies, garlands, birds, etc.). A confession was also built in the 4th century AD in a passageway behind the Clivus Scauri; the walls of the confession were frescoed with Christian themes (Beheading of Crispo, Crispiniano and Benedetta, feminine figures and an "orante" or "person in prayer").

          Santo Stefano Rotondo

          The Basilica of St. Stephen in the Round on the Celian Hill (Italian: Basilica di Santo Stefano al Monte Celio, Latin: Basilica S. Stephani in Coelio Monte) is an ancient basilica and titular church in Rome, Italy. Commonly named Santo Stefano Rotondo, the church is the National church in Rome of Hungary dedicated to Saint Stephen and Saint Stephen of Hungary. The minor basilica is also the rectory church of the Pontifical Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum.

          The earliest church was consecrated by Pope Simplicius between 468 and 483. It was dedicated to the protomartyr Saint Stephen, whose body had been discovered a few decades before in the Holy Land, and brought to Rome. The church was the first in Rome to have a circular plan, inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Santo Stefano was probably financed by the wealthy Valerius family, whose estates covered large parts of the Caelian Hill. Their villa stood nearby, on the site of the present-day Hospital of San Giovanni - Addolorata. St Melania the Elder, a member of the family, was a frequent pilgrim to Jerusalem and died there, so the family had connections to the Holy Land.

          The church was originally commissioned by Pope Leo I (440-461), with the date confirmed by ancient coins and by dendrochronology, which places the wood used in the beams of the roof to around 455 AD, but was not consecrated until after his death. The original church had three concentric ambulatories flanked by 22 Ionic columns, surrounding the central circular space surmounted by a tambour (22 m high and 22 m wide). There were 22 windows in the tambour but most of them were walled up in the 15th century restoration. The central ambulatory had a diameter of 42 meters, and the outer one a diameter of 66 meters. Four side chapels extended from the middle ambulatory to the outer ambulatory, forming a Greek cross.

          The church was embellished by Pope John I and Pope Felix IV in the 6th century with mosaics and colored marble. The church was restored in 1139-1143 by Pope Innocent II, who abandoned the outer ambulatory, and three of the four side chapels. He also had three transversal arches added to support the dome, enclosed the columns of the central ambulatory with brick to form the new outer wall, and walled up 14 of the windows in the drum.

          In the Middle Ages, Santo Stefano Rotondo was in the charge of the Canons of San Giovanni in Laterano, but as time went on it fell unto disrepair. In the middle of the 15th century Flavio Biondo praised the marble columns, marble covered walls and cosmatesque works-of-art of the church, but he added that unfortunately "nowadays Santo Stefano Rotondo has no roof". Blondus claimed that the church was built on the remains of an ancient Temple of Faunus. Excavations in 1969 to 1975 revealed that the building was actually never converted from a pagan temple but was always a church, erected under Constantine I in the first half of the 4th century.

          In 1454, Pope Nicholas V entrusted the ruined church to the Pauline Fathers, the only Catholic Order founded by Hungarians. This is the reason why Santo Stefano Rotondo later became the unofficial church of the Hungarians in Rome. The church was restored by Bernardo Rossellino, it is presumed under the guidance of Leon Battista Alberti.

          In 1579, the Hungarian Jesuits followed the Pauline Fathers. The Collegium Hungaricum, established here by István Arator that year, was soon merged with the Collegium Germanicum in 1580, which became the Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum, because very few Hungarian students were able to travel to Rome from the Turkish-occupied Kingdom of Hungary.

          The Cardinal Priest of the Titulus S. Stephani in Coelio Monte has been Friedrich Wetter since 1985. His predecessor József Mindszenty was famous as the persecuted Catholic leader of Hungary under the Communist dictatorship.

          Reconstruction of the appearance of the church in the 5th century.
          Although the inside is circular, the exterior is on a cruciform plan. The walls of the church are decorated with numerous frescoes, including those of Niccolò Circignani (Niccolò Pomarancio) and Antonio Tempesta portraying 34 scenes of martyrdom, commissioned by Gregory XIII in the 16th century. Each painting has a titulus or inscription explaining the scene and giving the name of the emperor who ordered the execution, as well as a quotation from the Bible. The paintings, naturalistic depictions of torture and execution, are somewhat morbid, if not gruesome.

          The altar was made by the Florentine artist Bernardo Rossellino in the 15th century. The painting in the apse shows Christ between two martyrs. The mosaic and marble decoration is from the period 523-530. One mosaic shows the martyrs St Primus and St Felicianus flanking a crux gemmata (jewelled cross). There is a tablet recording the burial here of the Irish king Donnchad mac Briain, son of Brian Bóruma and King of Munster, who died in Rome in 1064. An ancient chair of Pope Gregory the Great from around 580 AD is preserved here. The Chapel of Ss. Primo e Feliciano has very interesting and rare mosaics from the 7th century. The chapel was built by Pope Theodore I who brought here the relics of the martyrs Primus and Felician and buried them (together with the remains of his father).

          Hungarian Chapel

          Unlike nationals of other European nations, Hungarians lacked a national church in Rome, because the old Santo Stefano degli Ungheresi in the Vatican was pulled down to make way for the sacristy of the St Peter's Basilica in 1778. As a compensation for the loss of the ancient church, Pope Pius VI built a Hungarian chapel in Santo Stefano Rotondo according to the plans of Pietro Camporesi.

          The Hungarian chapel is dedicated to King Stephen I of Hungary, Szent István, the canonized first king of the Magyars. The feast of St Stephen is held on 20 August. Hungarian pilgrims frequently visit the place. Hungarian experts took part in the ongoing restoration and archeological exploration of the church during the 20th century together with German and Italian colleagues. Notable Hungarian visitors were Vilmos Fraknói, Frigyes Riedl, and László Cs. Szabó, who all wrote about the history and importance of Santo Stefano. Recent archeological explorations revealed the late-antique floor of the church in the chapel. The floor is composed of coloured marble slabs and was restored in 2006 by an international team led by Zsuzsanna Wierdl. The frescoes of the chapel were painted in 1776 but older strata of paintings were recently discovered under them.
           Archdeacon János Lászai, canon of Gyulafehérvár, was buried in the Santo Stefano Rotondo in 1523. Lászai left Hungary and moved to Rome where he became a papal confessor. His burial monument is an interesting example of Renaissance funeral sculpture. The inscription says: "Roma est patria omnium" (Rome is everybody's fatherland).

          Under the church there is a 2nd-century mithraeum, related to the presence of the barracks of Roman soldiers in the neighbourhood. The cult of Mithras was especially popular among soldiers. The remains of Castra Peregrinorum, the barracks of the peregrini, officials detached for special service to the capital from the provincial armies, were found right under Santo Stefano Rotondo. The mithraeum belonged to Castra Peregrinorum but it was probably also attended by the soldiers of Cohors V Vigilum, whose barracks stood nearby on the other side of Via della Navicella.

          The mithraeum is currently being excavated. The remains of the Roman military barracks (from the Severan Age) and the mithraeum under the church remain closed to the public. A coloured marble bas-relief, "Mithras slaying the bull" from the third century is today in Museo Nazionale Romano.

          Basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati

          Santi Quattro Coronati
          In the fourth and fifth centuries a basilica was erected and dedicated in honor of these martyrs on the Caelian Hill, probably in the general area where tradition located their execution. This became one of the titular churches of Rome, was restored several times.
          The Four Crowned Martyrs were venerated early in England, with Bede noting that there was a church dedicated to them in Canterbury. This veneration can perhaps be accounted for the fact that Augustine of Canterbury came from a monastery near the basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati in Rome or because their relics were sent from Rome to England in 601. Their connection with stonemasonry in turn connected them to the Freemasons. One of the scholarly journals of the English Freemasons was called Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, and the Stonemasons of Germany adopted them as patron saints of "Operative Masonry."

          Depictions in art

          Around 1385, they were depicted by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini. Around 1415, Nanni di Banco fashioned a sculptural grouping of the martyrs after he was commissioned by the Maestri di Pietra e Legname, the guild of stone and woodworkers, of which he was a member. These saints were the guild's patron saints. The work can be found in the Orsanmichele, in Florence. They were also depicted by Filippo Abbiati.


              • William Granger Ryan Jacobus, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints (Princeton University Press, 1993), 291-2.
              • Catholic Encyclopedia: Four Crowned Martyrs
              • Alban Butler, Sarah Fawcett Thomas, Paul Burns, "Butler's Lives of the Saints," (Continuum International Publishing Group, 1997), 63.
              • Martyrologium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2001 ISBN 88-209-7210-7)
              • Rosa Giorgi, "Saints: A Year in Faith and Art" (Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2006).