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Church History, Art, Archeology and Spirituality all in One Book

Book: Rome 1300: On the Path of the Pilgrim
Authors: Herbert L. Kessler and Johanna Zacharias
Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, pp. 237

Excerpt from Introduction:

Strange as it now seems, the first Jubilee year of the Christian Church appears to have come as something of a surprise to Pope Boniface VIII and his clerical counselors. Having noted an exceptionally heavy flow of pilgrim traffic to Rome in 1300. Boniface declared that year as the start of what was to become one of the Churchís most spiritually important and politically and economically fortifying traditions, the Jubilee or Holy Year. To make the most of an opportunity to consolidate Christianís fidelity to their Church, on February 22, Boniface proclaimed 1300 to be a year in which plenary absolution ó that is, forgiveness for a lifetimeís sins ó would be granted to all the faithful who made the trek to Rome. . . .

Using as a pretext destinations on the path that a hypothetical pilgrim in the first Jubilee year might have taken, this book present some of the significant sites of Rome as the appeared at the end of the Middle Ages. For modern pilgrims retracing their forebearsí steps through Rome, many of the monuments and much of their dazzling art still survive and make appropriate destinations for travelers in the Holy Year 2000 and thereafter.

Authorís premise. The selection of material treated in the book is defined by what pilgrims of the first Jubilee encountered and were prompted to contemplate.

Excerpt from Book:

Entry at the Porta Praenestina, also popularly called the Porta Maggiore while situating the pilgrim well to reach the Lateran, provided an introduction to Rome that is rewarding in other aspects as well. Located at the convergence of the via Praenestina and the via Labicana, two of the ancient thoroughfares that lead to the city, the Porta Maggiore is one of the portals that the Graphia lists [the guidebook for the 1st Jubilee]. This and the other gates that breach the massive wall by the Emperor Aurelian (215-75) late in the third century gave Rome defensible access from all directors. Although the city has numerous portals, the Graphia names twelve, which, by no accident, is the number traditionally ascribed to the gates of Jerusalem and, in turn, to Heavenly Jerusalem, of which Rome has been considered a replica. Elegantly lettered inscriptions carved into the attic story above the gateís twin-arched opening proclaim the succession of emperors who built and maintained this portal: Claudius (41-54), Vespasian (69-79), and Honorius (395-423)

Table of Contents:

Introduction: Jubilee and Pilgrimage

Chapter 1: The Papal Precinct at the Lateran

Chapter 2: The Sancta Sanctorum, (Holy of Holies) Reliquary of Reliquaries

Chapter 3: The Journey of the Acheropita (Icon of Christ) Commences

Chapter 4: The Acheropita Its Destination

Chapter 5: Where Sone and Mother Reunite

Chapter 6: The Two Apostolic Basilicas