Wednesday, December 27, 2006
The Reply of Replies
PQ was close to it. My church that I was supposed to write my HIST 301 paper on (that’s the Art and Architecture class) was Santa Anastasia. So why Anastasia on Christmas? Well it is her feast day on December 25, although I think that Christmas was declared on that day before her feast. But anyway, Anastasia was a girl who was martyred in Sirmium, not Rome, where her Church is. In fact, her body isn't even in Rome, but rather is in Istanbul (formally Constantinople). So why the celebration on Christmas? As the Catholic Encyclopedia says, "This martyr enjoys the distinction, unique in the Roman liturgy, of having a special commemoration in the second Mass on Christmas day. This Mass was originally celebrated not in honor of the birth of Christ, but in commemoration of this martyr, and towards the end of the fifth century her name was also inserted in the Roman canon of the Mass." Traditionally, the second Mass on Christmas day is in her honor. Again, the Catholic Encyclopedia says: "The commemoration of St. Anastasia in the second Mass on Christmas day is the last remnant of the former prominence enjoyed by this saint and her church in the life of Christian Rome."
What is special about this saint and her church can not be summed up in one post, but I can give some info on it. Anastasia was killed and buried in Constantinople, and there she stays, but as with many saints a church was built in her honor, ironically or not, over the house belonging to a Christian woman apparently named (you guessed it) Anastasia, who had allowed her house to be used as a church in the early days. Weird. So they built the church there, and it like most of the other churches built over house churches was called a titular church. Those who were in charge of the titular church were the forerunners of our modern pastors, and titular churches were like modern parishes. Cardinals run these churches, and since it is said that he said Mass there, St. Jerome is called the first titular cardinal of Santa Anastasia (even though he was only a priest in real life). That is why he is pictured sometimes with a cardinal hat.
Anastasia is an important church in that it unites East and West, for it is where the Byzantine emperor used to attend Mass, and where a side chapel commemorates a New World saint. I wrote more on this in my paper, which I could gladly email you, if you really want. Its kinda 7 pages long.
So that’s the big deal on St. Anastasia, one of those martyrs that people just seem to pass over now a days.