The Cardinal's Forward
Rome is famous as the
'city of a thousand churches'. The author of the present volume
has chosen that unique characteristic to illustrate 2,000 years
of Christian history in Rome - from the ancient catacombs to the
most recent churches raised, sometimes haphazardly, in the sprawling
She has done this for
the occasion of the Great Jubilee for the Year 2000, in response
to Pope John Paul II's invitation, in his apostolic letter Tertio
Millenio Adveniente, to give glory to God by recalling the beauty
the Church has brought to the world during its two-millennial history.
Before the pilgrim's
eyes, the author parades twenty centuries of history in the Eternal
City. Descriptions of churches from many different eras evoke the
'historical-religious memory' of the world capital, where, after
the fall of the Roman Empire, life centered around the Roman Church
and, to a large extent, took place in Roman churches.
These sacred edifices
were often the centre of family and social life for the Roman people.
Their placement largely determined the city's physical aspect. The
writer examines their historical origins, evolving religious and
civic functions, and the roles the churches played in the daily
lives of Roman citizens. The result is a broad panorama - enriched
by events, personages, and some surprising new findings - of the
influence Rome's churches had on everyday life.
In the course of this
long and lively chronicle, the spiritual importance of Rome's churches
becomes very clear. Centres of assembly and prayer, of ritual and
liturgy and popular piety, the churches of Rome disseminated faith
and practice throughout the universal Church. I feel certain that
upon opening the pages of this book the reader will discover a mine
of historical information, fascinating stories and practical suggestions.
In the course of an entertaining and informative itinerary, the
pilgrim will come to understand how Rome's places of worship gave
birth to that Christian civilization which now characterizes not
only Rome, but much of the Western world as well.
President of the Pontifical Commission
for the Cultural Patrimony of the Church
Editors note: Since
this writing, Archbishop Marchisano has been elevated to Cardinal
and appointed Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica.
His title now reads:
Archpriest of the Patriarchal Vatican Basilica
President of the Fabric of St Peter